Transportation

US DOT proposes rule boosting protections for airline passengers seeking refunds

Airplane
Mark Prado

A proposed rule to significantly strengthen protections for consumers seeking refunds for airline tickets was announced this week by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Since early 2020, the DOT has received a torrent of air travel service complaints from consumers with non-refundable tickets who did not travel because airlines canceled or significantly changed their flights or because the consumers decided not to fly for pandemic-related reasons such as health concerns.

“When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably, and affordably,” said U.S. 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.”
 
The proposal require that airlines and ticket agents provide passengers 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 to protect their health or the health of other passengers. 
 
For information about airline passenger rights, as well as DOT’s rules, guidance and orders, the Department’s aviation consumer website can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.