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Consumer Reports calls on airlines to provide cash refunds when passengers cancel flights due to the coronavirus crisis

Analysis by Senator Markey shows most bailed out airlines offer only vouchers when many Americans need cash 

 WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Consumer Reports renewed its call today for airlines to provide a full cash refund when passengers cancel their flights due to concerns about the coronavirus.  CR is launching a petition to the airlines on the same day that an analysis by Senator Edward J. Markey showed that none of the biggest carriers are providing a cash refund to passengers who cancel flights during the current crisis.

“We’ve heard from thousands of people who have been unable to get cash refunds when they cancelled their flights due to concerns about the coronavirus,” said William J. McGee, Aviation Adviser for Consumer Reports. “It’s unacceptable for airlines to only offer vouchers during a global pandemic and an economic crisis. The airline industry received its $50 billion taxpayer bailout, so the least it can do is offer full refunds–without forcing customers to jump through hoops. All passengers deserve a full cash refund during this unprecedented time.”

The analysis of airline refund policies released by Senator Markey, along with Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren and Kamela Harris, found that only Allegiant and Spirit are offering cash refunds when passengers cancel their own tickets during the COVID-19 crisis.  While passengers on flights cancelled by airlines are entitled to a full refund under federal law, some carriers are offering vouchers as the default option, forcing passengers to take extra steps to get a cash refund.

CR has heard from thousands of people across the country who reported that the airlines are only giving travel vouchers for canceled flights instead of cash refunds and can connect reporters with those willing to be interviewed about their experience.  For more information, contact Michael McCauley at Michael.mccauley@consumer.org

Consumer Reports’ petition to the airlines can be found at ConsumerReports.org/AirlineRefunds

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org, 415-902-9537