As the new corona virus continues to cripple the travel industry, consumers are clamoring to get their money back for the unused airline tickets, lodging, tours, car rentals, and cruises booked before a pandemic hijacked their plans.“Every stakeholder in travel is frustrated,” said Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now, a consumer advocacy group based in suburban Lake Villa, Ill. “There’s never been this kind of volume of refund activity”.
It’s a confusing, difficult time for consumers, especially when the rules have adhered. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for getting cashback on travel plans derailed by the health crisis. Some people try as they might be out of luck depending on the fine print of their contracts, among other variables. But for many consumers, there are ways to bolster the chances of a refund.
Watch: How to get Refund from Airlines canceled during COVID-19
One of the biggest battles for cash has been the fight between airlines and passengers over canceled and delayed flights. When an airline fixes a flight or makes a significant schedule change, the U.S. Department of Transportation says consumers are entitled to their money back, even on cheaper, nonrefundable tickets.“During the corona virus, the airlines started ignoring this rule,” said FlyersRights.org President Paul Hudson, a member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s rule making advisory committee.
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The air travel assistance company Cranky Concierge recently launched a new offering called Refund Hunter to help airline customers figure out their options for postponing or getting a refund on a particular flight. Once the customer decides what to do, the company tells them how to handle that request with their airline or travel agent.
Consumer advocates recommend filing complaints online with the U.S. Department of Transportation to pressure the agency to hold airlines accountable for refunds. No matter how many flights or passengers, It has been in high demand, said the company’s president, Brett Snyder. Under DOT rules, customers with nonrefundable tickets who choose not to travel during the pandemic aren’t eligible for cash refunds.