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Biden Administration Simplifies Process for Flyers to Obtain Refunds

President Joe Biden (Credits: ABC17NEWS)

The Biden administration introduced a new rule on Wednesday ensuring that passengers affected by flight cancellations or serious delays will receive cash refunds from airlines, rather than just vouchers for future flights.

This rule, a response to ongoing disruptions in air travel due to increased demand following the pandemic, aims to simplify the refund process for affected travelers.

In addition to this rule, the Transportation Department issued another regulation requiring airlines and third-party ticket sellers to disclose all additional fees upfront, such as those for checked bags.

Biden administration (Credits: The Hill)

These actions follow a period marked by extensive flight cancellations and delays, the Southwest Airlines holiday debacle in 2022, which left millions of passengers stranded.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasized the importance of ensuring passengers receive timely refunds without unnecessary hassle. The new rule sets a standard requiring airlines to promptly refund passengers in cash when flights are seriously delayed or canceled, regardless of the reason.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing U.S. carriers, stated that its members have already complied with existing regulations regarding consumer protections, highlighting substantial refunds issued to customers over the past few years.

However, the new rule mandates cash refunds for remarkable delays or cancellations, streamlining the process for affected passengers.

Under the new regulations, passengers will automatically receive refunds in the original form of payment for their tickets within specific timeframes.

This includes seven business days for credit card purchases and 20 calendar days for other payment methods. Additionally, passengers who cancel due to illness will receive vouchers valid for five years, which are transferable.

Biden (Credits: CNN)

The expanded regulations also require airlines to refund all taxes and fees associated with tickets, regardless of the airlines’ ability to recover these costs. Passengers will be entitled to refunds for additional expenses incurred due to changes in their travel plans, such as unexpected connections or downgrades in service class.

Lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups have long criticized airlines for their restrictive refund policies and lack of transparency regarding fees. The new rules aim to address these concerns by requiring airlines to disclose all fees upfront and provide cash refunds for eligible expenses.

These regulations represent an outstanding step toward enhancing consumer protections in the airline industry and ensuring passengers receive fair treatment when facing flight disruptions or additional fees.

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