US DoT proposes strengthened consumer protections for airline ticket refunds

4 August, 2022

US Department of Transportation (DoT) announced (03-Aug-2022) a proposal to strengthen consumer protections regarding airline ticket refunds when a flight is significantly changed or cancelled. The proposal would define the term 'significant change' to include the following circumstances:

  • Changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight;
  • Changes to the departure or arrival airport;
  • Changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary;
  • Changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.

The proposal would also define a cancelled flight as a flight that was published in a carrier's computer reservation system at the time of ticket sale but was not operated by the carrier. Under the regulation, airlines and ticket agents would be required to provide passengers flight credits or vouchers valid indefinitely when passengers are unable to fly due to COVID-19 related reasons. Airlines and ticket agents that receive significant pandemic government assistance would also be required to issue refunds in lieu of credits/vouchers. [more - original PR]