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DOT Proposing Stronger Airline Refund Rules

The new rule would significantly strengthen travelers' protections

The Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a new rule this week that would significantly strengthen protections for travelers seeking refunds for airline tickets. DOT said it has received a flood of complaints from travelers with non-refundable tickets who did not travel because airlines canceled or drastically changed their flights or because travelers decided not to fly because of pandemic-related health concerns.

DOT asserted in the proposal that a failure to provide refunds when a carrier cancels or significantly changes a flight to or from the United States is an unfair practice. The department is also proposing to define the terms “significant change” to include changes that affect the departure and/or arrival by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight; changes to the departure or arrival airport; changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary; and changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.

The changes would also require airlines to provide flight credits or vouchers that are valid indefinitely when passengers are unable to fly for certain pandemic-related reasons, such as government-mandated bans on travel, closed borders or passengers advised not to travel for health reasons.

“When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably and affordably,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This new proposed rule would protect the rights of travelers and help ensure they get the timely refunds they deserve from the airlines.”

This article was provided to OSAP by ASAE's Power of Associations and Inroads.

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