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US investigates 18 airlines over deferred refund complaints




WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (Reuters) – The US Department of Transportation said Thursday it had 18 ongoing investigations against airlines over complaints they failed to reimburse on time during the COVID-19 pandemic .

The department said in a report to the White House that it is still reviewing 30,100 complaints about 18 airlines out of the 20 investigations it initially opened. He did not name the airlines.

“The department has spent a lot of time, energy and effort in achieving consumer relief and holding airlines accountable,” he said in the report.

The ministry said it had completed investigations into complaints involving Air Canada (AC.TO) and United Airlines (UAL.O).

In June, the ministry said it was seeking a $ 25.5 million fine from Air Canada for the carrier’s failure to timely reimburse thousands of consumers who requested them for flights to or from the United States. United States. Read more

Air Canada urged the department to dismiss the complaint, saying “the department’s arbitrary conduct flatly contradicts years of well-established law.”

The ministry said Thursday that settlement negotiations with Air Canada “are continuing.” Air Canada did not immediately comment.

In June, the Department of Transportation said it was investigating the reimbursement practices of an undisclosed number of US and foreign carriers flying to and from the United States and would take “enforcement action” where appropriate.

The department said Thursday it was separately reviewing four foreign carriers that have filed for bankruptcy and “is exploring options on how passengers who did not receive a refund when carriers canceled their flights can be compensated “.

In January, the department ended its investigation into United after the carrier “took swift corrective action, which allowed thousands of passengers who were initially denied refunds to receive the required refunds around. of June 2020 “.

The transportation department is working to increase the number of employees handling consumer complaints by 38%.

The department said it plans to issue rules on refunds for consumers who cannot travel due to government restrictions. Existing regulations do not address eligibility for reimbursement under special circumstances, such as government-imposed travel restrictions.

He also said that at least 9 airlines that initially provided vouchers or credits instead of refunds for non-refundable tickets changed their policies to make it clear that passengers are entitled to refunds in such circumstances and have provided refunds if needed.

Reporting by David Shepardson; edited by Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.




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