This past Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation directed the nation's airlines to be clearer with folks whose travel plans have been affected by the coronavirus. "U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger's scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier," reads the official directive.
Until now, travel companies seem not to have been completely transparent with their customers, offering them future travel credit before making it clear that they are entitled to full refunds for cancelled flights.
The announcement comes following an uptick in complaints to the Department of Transportation. "Ticketed passengers, including many with non-refundable tickets, describe having been denied refunds for flights that were cancelled or significantly delayed," reads the note.
To make things very clear: airlines are still allowed to offer you future credit in lieu of a cancelled or rescheduled flight but can only do so after letting you know that a full refund is well within your rights.
The news comes at the heels of major disruption to the airline industry as a whole, a situation that has left many companies scrambling to figure out the best ways to move forward. Just last week, for example, Delta Air Lines announced no-fee rebookings through 2022.
These are unchartered times, of course, and we should all stay safe, but let's try and keep our heads up and indulge in day-dreams about our next travel excursions. We'll get there soon enough.