5 On Your Side

Lawmakers push for airlines to give refunds, not vouchers

Posted May 14, 2020 12:04 a.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2020 12:39 a.m. EDT

— A major development happened Wednesday in the push for full refunds instead of vouchers for people whose plans to fly during this pandemic were canceled.

Despite federal law that requires refunds when airlines cancel a flight, many offered vouchers as a default and made passengers take extra steps to get their money back. On Wednesday, five US senators introduced new legislation requiring airlines to offer a cash refund for any flight canceled on or after March 1 because of COVID-19.

Airlines could offer a voucher if a customer prefers it, but it can’t expire.

The bill includes flights sold through third parties, which has been a big sticking point.

“Americans need cash in their pockets to pay for food, housing, and prescriptions, not temporary credits toward future travel," said Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

The senators estimate airlines are sitting on $10 billion of travelers’ money, while getting $50 billion in taxpayer help from Congress. If you’d like to contact lawmakers about the issues, click this link for more information on where you can do that.

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