The past month has been a confusing and chaotic time for most Americans.
While trying to navigate the new normal of self-quarantine and social isolation, many of us have had to deal with the fallout from cancelled weddings, vacations, work trips and other travel related cancellations. Why? Because, for the foreseeable future, the majority of Americans remain grounded, forced to cancel or postpone their travel plans.
While it sucks for us all, thankfully the United States Department of Transportation has ordered one silver lining throughout this whole ordeal. They’ve recently mandated that airlines must provide full refunds to customers whose flights have been canceled during the COVID-19 outbreak. So that means you’ll be getting your coin back to help you with unexpected pandemic related expenses, or even if you want to save that money for upcoming travel in the future.
The DOT made this announcement after complaints from thousands of ticketed passengers who were denied refunds and only offered vouchers or credits for future travel, despite their flights being cancelled by the airlines.
Airlines can still offer credits, but passengers must be made aware that they have the option to receive a refund if they want one. It’s not for them to decide how you should receive your money back.
“Airlines have long provided such refunds, including during periods when air travel has been disrupted on a large scale, such as the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and presidentially declared natural disasters,” a notice from DOT to airline companies read. “Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for canceled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged.”
For those thinking about travel life after the pandemic, you’ll be happy to know that many airlines have begun to put social distancing practices into implementation on upcoming flights by slashing flight capacity all on flights.
United, JetBlue and Delta also recently announced that they’d be offering free, round-trip flights to health care workers on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
United and JetBlue are partnering with the city of New York to offer free, round-trip flights to health care workers willing to help the city’s coronavirus patients, while Delta is offering free flights to medical professionals traveling to Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan.