The Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings issued an enforcement notice in early April that passengers “should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed.”
“Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for cancelled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged,” the office said in the notice.
According to the notice, the Department of Transportation has been receiving an increasing number of complaints from ticketed passengers who have been denied refunds for flights that were canceled or delayed, oftentimes receiving vouchers or credits instead.
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“As a result, passengers are left with cancelled or significantly delayed flights and vouchers and credits for future travel that are not readily usable,” according to the notice.
The Aviation Enforcement Office said it will “exercise its prosecutorial discretion and provide carriers an opportunity to become compliant before taking further action.“
Travel restrictions, social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have severely impacted the aviation industry. Airlines have trimmed their staffs and are offering fewer flights to travelers, raising questions about how the industry may operate in the future.
In White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefings, President Donald Trump has reiterated his desire to see airlines thrive again.
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This story was reported from Los Angeles.