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Blumenthal & Markey to Airlines: When You Cancel, Cash Refunds Are the Law

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) issued the following joint statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued its second Enforcement Notice regarding airline ticket refunds for passengers whose flights have been cancelled by the airline due to COVID-19. Airlines are required by law to issue cash refunds to consumers whose flights have been canceled by the airlines. Reports indicate that airlines are misleading consumers seeking refunds, intentionally steering them toward vouchers.

“Today’s DOT enforcement notice is further proof of the unprecedented impact this pandemic has had on our traveling public. With more than 25,000 air travel service complaints in just two months – many of them about refunds – it’s clear that Americans are not getting the answers or the assistance they need from airlines. Issuing cash refunds to all consumers for flights cancelled by airlines due to the pandemic is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the law. Airlines should comply immediately and provide much needed financial relief to Americans. The DOT must remain vigilant and take swift enforcement action if this problem persists.”

In March, Blumenthal and Markey were among a group of Senators who sent letters to each of the major domestic airlines, urging them to also issue full cash refunds to all customers who cancel their flights during the COVID-19 crisis, and to American citizens who encounter flight cancellations while stranded in countries that implemented travel restrictions. The press release and letters can be found here. The Senators subsequently released findings based on the airlines’ responses, estimating that they could be “holding onto over $10 billion of hard-earned money from American travelers.” The press release and response letters from airlines can be found here.