In response to recent airline flight cancellations, U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) joined U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D- MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in introducing legislation to protect flying consumers.
The Cash Refunds for Flight Cancellations Act would give consumers the right to a full cash refund for flight or ticket cancellations. The bill codifies US Department of Transportation rules that require major airlines to offer consumers a cash refund if an airline cancels or significantly delays a flight. The legislation also gives consumers a new right to a cash refund if they cancel their flight up to 48 hours before a flight is scheduled to depart.
“Flight cancellations happen too frequently,” Cohen said. “My flight was canceled last week. The flying public doesn’t expect or want to get credits when airlines cause the cancellation, especially when they’ve already had a bailout of billions of US taxpayer dollars. Our bill corrects this situation and restores some necessary consumer protections for air travellers.
Flight cancellations and delays have increased in recent months, leading to an increasing number of consumer complaints. While federal law requires airlines to provide cash refunds when they cancel a flight, most airlines only offer passengers the option of rebooking the flight or offer passengers a voucher for a future flight. Lawmakers said airlines routinely require customers to take steps to claim their rightful refund.
“Enough: Travelers are tired of wasting their precious time fighting airlines to receive their legally required cash refunds,” Markey said. “And they are tired of making flight reservations months in advance, to face a health scare that forces them to choose between canceling a non-refundable flight or traveling and risking the health of their fellow travelers. Just as hotels often allow consumers to cancel their reservation and receive a full refund, the Cash Refunds for Flight Cancellations Act would extend a similar requirement for air travel. clouds and provide the efficient and responsible service that travelers deserve.”
The legislation would require airlines or ticket agents to offer a full cash refund within 30 days if the flight is canceled or significantly delayed. The airline would only be able to offer a voucher if it included clear language that the traveler is entitled to a cash refund. The legislation would also require the airline to inform the passenger before purchasing a ticket that they are entitled to a refund. The legislation will also authorize the Secretary of Transportation to fine an airline $1,000 if it does not provide a passenger with a full cash refund within 30 days.
The legislation is endorsed by the American Economic Liberties Project, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumers League.