Believe it or not, even after a directive by the U.S. Department of Transportation back in April, airlines across the nation aren't freely giving refunds to folks dealing with cancelled flights, offering them travel vouchers instead. That, however, might soon change if the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act of 2020 passes.
The bill was introduced by Senators Edward J. Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate last week. The proposed legislation would require airlines and third-party ticket vendors to offer full refunds for all flight cancellations during the pandemic, whether the cancellation was made by the airline itself or by choice for whatever reason by the passenger. If the bill passes, the ruling would be a retroactive one, applying to any flight scheduled or occurred on or after March 1, 2020.
There's more: although airlines will still be allowed to offer the option of a travel voucher in lieu of cash, the legislation directs all carriers to make refunds available up until 180 days after the end of the national declaration of emergency due to the current outbreak. If passed, the bill will also allow passengers that have already received a voucher to request money back instead.
"Americans need cash in their pockets to pay for food, housing, and prescriptions, not temporary credits toward future travel," said Senator Markey of Massachusetts in an official statement. "In light of this pressing need, and an unprecedented multi-billion-dollar bailout, it’s absolutely unconscionable that the airlines won’t give consumers their money back."
Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut echoed his co-author's thoughts: "Americans need and deserve their hard-earned cash back when the pandemic prevents them from flying, no matter when their tickets were booked," he said.
The proposed legislation is clearly a way to protect travelers' interests, but it comes after a slew of government relief efforts aimed at the opposing side of the industry. The $2 trillion CARES Act (a relief package brought to existence at the beginning of the pandemic), for example, includes a $50 billion budget for U.S. airlines alone—part of which will likely be used to give out requested refunds if the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act of 2020 were to put into law.
The bill would, of course, only apply to Unites States-based companies, which have become major topics of discussion in recent month. In addition to focusing on the financial repercussions of the virus for both passengers and the airlines, we've been reporting on the sanitizing practices that the crafts have been taking on in order to safely resume travel.
As for a timeline regarding the potential passing of the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act of 2020, no official details have yet been divulged. In the meantime, we suggest calling the airline to request your money back and, if that fails as well, file an official complaint with the Department of Transportation.
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