Flier's Remorse: Airlines Stingy With Refunds

The skies are anything but friendly for travelers these days. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, air travelers now face mask mandates, temperature checks in some airports, and reduced in-flight service. Making matters worse is many airlines' continued refusal to issue refunds for flights cancelled by passengers. IHeartMedia aviation analyst Jay Ratliff estimates the airlines are sitting on more than $1 billion in refunds since the start of the pandemic.

Most airlines will only issue monetary refunds for flights cancelled by the airline. Travelers who cancel flights during the pandemic instead usually receive vouchers or credits toward future travel. Denny Kelly, retired airline captain and aviation consultant, says that has left many travelers in a frustrating runaround with the airlines. "I know people who've booked flights anywhere from Dallas to Atlanta or Dallas to London, and they're trying to get a refund and still haven't gotten one...some have been waiting six months," he tells KTRH.

Kelly understands why the financially struggling airlines are doing this. "For the airlines to give out travel vouchers, the chances are probably less than 50 percent those people are ever going to use that voucher," he says. "The airlines know that, and that is why they would much rather give a voucher than cash."

Some critics have called on Congress to take action, but aside from some members chiding the airlines for withholding refunds, no legislation is in the works. "The airlines are huge companies, they have a lot of money and wield a lot of power with congressmen and senators, so they can pretty well do what they want to do," says Kelly.

The bottom line for air travelers is don't expect a remedy anytime soon. "I would make sure that you know for sure that you're going to go and when you're going to go (on a trip)," says Kelly. "Because the chances of you getting a refund if you don't go are pretty slim, if not none."

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content