The bottom line for many airlines is simple:  Do whatever possible to generate revenue and conserve cash now –  and worry about the consequences later.

We were alerted to this new airline COVID scam involving phantom flights by Tamara Thiessen with Forbes.

It appears that some airlines are using customers as “piggy banks” and pretending to schedule flights that never fly – then withholding refunds.

This practice should certainly be considered an unlawful unfair or deceptive  practice by the US DOT and/or the Federal Trade Commission FTC. However, to date the US government has only issued bland “enforcement guidance” for blatantly unlawful “no refund” policies for canceled flights.

The DOT generally does not penalize airlines unless it deems a violation “repetitive or egregious” resulting in only a few low fines with no compensation to passengers.

Complaints can be filed with the DOT at and with at or calling in the US 877-FLYERS6,

Any airline flying to, from or within the US is required to offer passengers a cash refund for any flight that it cancels and to make payment within 20 days under DOT regulations.

Airlines have drastically reduced the number of flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they must still generally maintain service to cities they served before the pandemic or risk losing the rights to those routes under government regulations.

There have also been reports of airline price gouging for flights from the US to China. The US federal government has no consumer anti-price gouging law and airlines are exempt from all state or local government anti price gouging laws.

Class actions are being filed against airlines and can provide passengers with appropriate information.  We also can provide higher level airline customer service contacts for passenger complaints. is the largest non-profit airline passenger organization. All its services to passengers are free. Established in 2007, It is the only organization with expertise and experience that advocates regularly for air  passenger rights and interests before US and international agencies and in the courts.