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Over the past several weeks, there has been a lot of talk about airline refunds. If you’re a customer that is attempting (or attempted) to get a refund from the airlines for a canceled flight, you may have found yourself in an unique position of not being able to get your money back and/or given a voucher with a deadline to the use the funds.
AIRLINES SCRAMBLE TO KEEP CASH
Given the current pandemic, airlines have been so desperate to conserve cash that many have made it as hard as possible to get refunds but United has been the WORST! Some have been misleading consumers into believing they aren’t entitled to one, updating their websites and deleting the refund links, burying/hiding the refund links deeper into their website pages, offer vouchers, or just outright refusing.
On Friday April 5th, the Department of Transportation issued a statement clarifying the law and stating that airlines must give customers refunds when flights are canceled or significantly delayed even during extenuating circumstances like the coronavirus pandemic.
THAT DIDN’T TAKE VERY LONG
Well, just one day later, United Airlines find itself in a lawsuit filed by a passenger who was refused a refund for canceled flights.
In a 25-page lawsuit filed by United Airlines passenger Jacob Randolph, he says he was denied a refund request for three plane tickets he purchased in January for travel from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (HHH) to Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) from on April 4.
The tickets were purchases directly from United Airlines for a total of $1,521.45. But similar to many other passengers, instead of giving a refund, United Airlines told Rudolph he could “re-book the flights or get a travel credit that must be used within a year.”
The lawsuit states:
United refuses to issue monetary refunds to passengers with canceled flights. It does so even though airline passengers are entitled to a refund if the airline cancels a flight, regardless of the reason the airline cancels the flight.
Travel vouchers provide little security in this public crisis, particularly where many individual Americans need money now to pay for basics like food and rent, not restrictive, temporary credits towards future travel.
I said this many times before…we are in unprecedented times and everyone is scrambling trying to keep their head on straight. I trust this will not be the last you hear about this.
This particular court document says that it’s being filed as a potential class-action since thousands of passengers have had their flights canceled and are entitled to refunds.
Personally, if you find yourself in a situation where an airline has forced you to take a voucher, I would recommend contacting them again and asking for a refund. That’s a lot easier than getting involved in a lawsuit and you’re more likely to get ALL of your money back.
Both the U.S. Department of Transportation and the European Commissioner for Transport have clarified in recent days that airlines must give passenger the option for a full refund and many airlines have relented given this information (including United).
Have you been denied a refund? Were you offered a voucher?