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April 25, 2024

New US Regulations Ensure Automatic Refunds for Cancelled Flights, Protect Consumers from Surprise Fees

The Joe Biden administration has taken a significant step to protect air travelers in the United States by issuing new regulations requiring airlines to provide automatic cash refunds to passengers for cancelled flights. This move aims to shield consumers from surprise fees and ensure fair treatment in air travel.

President Biden emphasized the importance of these rules in a video statement, stating, “Too often, airlines drag their feet on refunds or rip folks off with junk fees. It is time Americans got a better deal.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg echoed this sentiment, highlighting that these regulations will save consumers more than half-a-billion dollars annually and prevent unnecessary surprise fees.

The new rules mandate that airlines must automatically issue refunds without passengers having to request them explicitly. Refunds for credit card purchases must be processed within seven business days, and for other payment methods, within 20 calendar days. Additionally, airlines must provide refunds in cash or the original payment method used by the passenger, prohibiting the substitution of vouchers or travel credits unless expressly chosen by the passenger.

Furthermore, airlines are now required to disclose all fees upfront, including those for checked bags, carry-ons, reservation changes, and cancellations. This transparency ensures that consumers can make informed decisions and avoid unexpected charges when purchasing tickets. Fees must be clearly stated at the time of fare and schedule information without relying on hyperlinks.

The regulations also address other consumer concerns, such as baggage limitations, change and cancellation policies, and seat selection fees. Airlines must provide accurate information on these matters to consumers and disclose passenger-specific fee information based on factors like rewards programs or military status.

The new rules aim to put an end to deceptive advertising practices by prohibiting airlines from promoting discounted fares that do not include all mandatory fees. Additionally, the Biden administration is considering further regulations to ban family-seating fees and ensure that parents can sit with their children at no extra cost.

These regulations mark a significant expansion of consumer protections in air travel and reflect the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to lowering costs for American families and holding corporations accountable. By providing clarity, transparency, and automatic refunds, the government aims to improve the air travel experience for all passengers.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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