Senators Markey, Blumenthal, Warren, Harris Reveal, After Bailout, Airlines Sitting on Customers’ Billions but Refuse to Give Cash Refunds During Coronavirus Pandemic

Excerpted from the Senators’ Release:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Lawmakers’ investigation found that most airlines still refuse to offer cash refunds to customers who cancel their tickets during the current public health emergency

Washington (April 17, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) today released their findings from an investigation into the consumer refund policies of the airline industry during the coronavirus pandemic. The Senators received this information after leading a group of their colleagues in a recent letter to eleven major domestic airlines, demanding that each company issue full cash refunds to all customers who cancel their flights during the ongoing public health emergency.

Although airlines are already required under federal law to give full refunds to customers who request their cash back after the company itself cancels a flight, travelers who cancel their own tickets during the coronavirus crisis are only receiving airline credits. Unfortunately, these travel vouchers do the public little good in this time of emergency, when Americans need money now to pay for basic necessities such as food, housing, and medical care.

“The ongoing pandemic is placing enormous financial strain on millions of Americans. In light of this pressing need, and the unprecedented multi-billion-dollar bailout that the airline industry just received from Congress, we are absolutely outraged that so few airlines are willing to offer real cash refunds to consumers who must cancel their tickets,” said the Senators in a joint statement. “Although most companies refused to say just how much money they are sitting on in the form of travel vouchers, we estimate that the airlines could be holding onto over $10 billion of hard-earned money from American travelers. If these companies released that money back to the public, it would provide a significant stimulus for struggling families. That’s why we once again urge the airlines to end their anti-consumer policies and offer real refunds during this emergency.”

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