Passenger complaints against US airlines increased in March and April

Passenger complaints against US airlines increased in March and April

(CNN) – Air travel complaints have increased eight times the normal amount in the past two months, with passengers complaining about airline reimbursements during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the US Department of Transportation.

In March and April, the Department of Transport received over 25,000 complaints, many of which were related to reimbursement. In an average month, the department receives 1,500 complaints.

This is why the DOT published its second set of directives Tuesday, clarifying the circumstances under which customers are entitled to reimbursements or travel credits.

“The department has received an unprecedented volume of passenger complaints and is examining this matter closely to ensure that airline policies and practices comply with DOT reimbursement rules,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in a statement. “The department is asking all airlines to review their customer service policies and ensure they are as flexible and responsive as possible to the needs of passengers experiencing financial difficulties during this period.”

New ministry guidelines specify that refunds must be made within seven days, if the flyer is paid for by credit card. It also states that if the customer cancels and not the airline, the situation is different and the airman may not be entitled to a refund or a travel credit.

“Although it is not mandatory, many airlines provide travel credits or vouchers that can be used for future trips for passengers who choose to cancel their trip due to health or safety concerns related to the COVID-19 “, depending on the department.

In April, the department said the airlines have an obligation to reimburse passengers for tickets when the airline cancels or significantly changes the customer’s flight, and the customer does not take the alternative offered by the airline. However, the terms “significant change” and “cancellation” are left to the interpretation of the different airlines.

“However, the Aviation Enforcement Office expects carriers to respect these reasonable interpretations in the implementation of their reimbursement obligations and will focus its enforcement action on cases where a carrier has failed to comply with the obligation to ‘offer refunds, has failed to comply with its refund policies, or when it is determined that the carrier’s refund policies or practices are otherwise “unfair or misleading,” “said the department.

On Tuesday, 163,205 people passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at airports – 7% more than a year ago, according to the TSA. It is around 100,000 in mid-April.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story overestimated the increase in complaints in title and history. Air travel complaints have increased eight times the normal amount in the past two months.

CNN’s Gregory Wallace, Pete Muntean contributed to this report


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