The airlines industry is facing pressure to refund passengers whose flights were canceled due to the pandemic.
Complaints are mounting against airlines in the United States, which reportedly owe customers $20 billion in refunds due to COVID-19. One advocacy group found more than 100,000 complaints were filed from April of 2020 through August of 2021.
“When so many flights got canceled during the pandemic, the knee-jerk reaction of the airline industry was to give vouchers, was to try to push it off, but their policies normally put those within a twelve-month period, and now we are getting to the end of that, and people are really upset,” Matthew Jones, a tourism expert with Directions Consulting, said.
He adds customers are entitled to a refund. However, there’s one problem.
“There are no federal guidelines that mandate how these airlines are supposed to handle the refunds, how long that they’re in place, the timeliness in which they’re supposed to present them to the consumer,” Jones explained.
As a result, each airline follows their own policy. Now the airline industry is facing pressure from Congress to issue refunds or extend the dates for vouchers that are set to expire soon. The federal government gave the airlines more than $54 billion in bailout money during the pandemic.