As July 4th Travel Approaches, Congressmen Cohen and Garcia and Senators Markey and Blumenthal Urge DOT to Pursue Airline Cash Refunds and Ensure Flight Credits Do Not Expire

June 30, 2021
Press Release

In the wake of airlines’ refusal to voluntarily do right by the flying public, lawmakers call on DOT to use its consumer protection authority to preserve travelers’ hard-earned dollars

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) urging the agency to protect air travelers from an unfair business practice that has pervaded aviation during the coronavirus pandemic – the denial of cash refunds for canceled flights and the issuance of flight credits that will soon expire..

During the ongoing emergency, many Americans have proactively canceled their flights at the urging of health officials – only to find themselves ineligible for refunds that would have been available had they waited for airlines to cancel their flights for them. In the place of refunds, airlines provided passengers with temporary travel credits that have already expired or will expire before many Americans feel safe traveling again. Additionally, many airlines have imposed conditions on travel credits that consumers have struggled to navigate, leaving many Americans unable to redeem their travel credits or only able to redeem them at a loss, even as the industry sits on more than $10 billion in unused travel credits.

“The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for air travelers, and consumers deserve cash refunds for tickets canceled during the pandemic,” write the lawmakers in their letter to DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “At a minimum, it is imperative that all flight credits issued during the pandemic are made valid indefinitely by default and frequent flier miles do not expire as a result of travelers having chosen not to fly during the pandemic. We urge you to act swiftly to address these concerns, and we stand ready to work with you to protect air travelers. There should be no expiration date for consumer protection.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Last Congress, Congressman Cohen and Senator Markey introduced the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act, which would have required major airlines and third-party ticket sellers to offer full cash refunds for all canceled tickets during the coronavirus pandemic, regardless of whether the airline canceled an entire flight or the passenger canceled an individual ticket. Today’s efforts build on the lawmakers’ prior work and continue their fight to preserve consumers’ hard-earned dollars.