The Transportation Department has proposed a package of new rules that would make it easier for Americans to get refunds when there are problems with air travel.
The DOT said it has received a “flood” of complaints from travelers who had their plans disrupted by the COVID-19 and pandemic-related fallout, and lost money due to non-refundable ticket purchases.
The new rules will give people the right to a cash refund – not a voucher – “if the airline cancels or significantly changes their flight.”
“Significant change” is defined by the DOT as:
- Anything that affects the departure or arrival time by three hours (or more) on domestic flights and six hours (or more) on international flights
- Changes to which airport your flight departs or departs from
- Changes to the number of connections in your itinerary
- If your aircraft type changes and “it causes a significant reduction in the air travel experience or the facilities available on the aircraft”
Under the new rules, you will also be eligible for a voucher if you cancel your flight for reasons related to the pandemic. These reasons may include:
- New government travel restrictions
- closed border
- Situations where passengers are advised not to travel for health or the health of others
These vouchers do not need to have an expiration date, the DOT said.
“When Americans buy an airline ticket, they want to get to their destination safely, reliably, and affordably,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. DOT announcement. “These new proposed rules will protect travelers’ rights and help them get the refunds they deserve from airlines.”
The rule, which was proposed on Aug. 3, is open for public comment for 90 days. After the public comment period ends, the proposal may be modified before the final rule is adopted and put into effect.
Lawmakers too Bill was introduced on Monday which would codify the proposed DOT rules. The Cash Refunds for Flight Cancellations Act goes further than the DOT proposal by giving travelers the option to get a refund as long as they cancel their flight 48 hours before departure, which Hill reported.