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U.S. DOT Releases Enforcement Notice Ordering Airlines to Provide Refunds

Monday, April 6, 2020

On Friday, April 3rd, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an Enforcement Notice that advised airlines they must refund passengers for canceled flights.
In a follow-up press release from the DOT, the organization stated that "U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier."
The release further states that airlines are obligated to give refunds, which include the cost of the ticket as well as any optional fee charges, even if the cancellation is out of the carriers control (if the cancellation is due to government restrictions, for example).
Airlines are still allowed to offer vouchers but they must abide by the following three stipulations to remain compliant with the Enforcement Notice:

(1) the carrier contacts, in a timely manner, the passengers provided vouchers for flights that the carrier cancelled or significantly delayed to notify those passengers that they have the option of a refund; (2) the carrier updates its refund policies and contract of carriage provisions to make clear that it provides refunds to passengers if the carrier cancels a flight or makes a significant schedule change; and (3) the carrier reviews with its personnel, including reservationists, ticket counter agents, refund personnel, and other customer service professionals, the circumstances under which refunds should be made.

The official notice can be found here and you may access the press release here.

For additional information please contact your CTM team.

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