NewsLet ABC15 Know


Few airlines offering cash refunds despite getting billions from bailout deal

Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 27, 2020

PHOENIX — Have you canceled travel plans in light of COVID-19 stay at home orders? We're you able to get your cash back or did you have to take a travel credit?

The Let Joe Know team is finding that little oversight from the government is making it hard to determine what you are entitled to, especially with the airlines receiving billions of dollars in bailout money.

"I feel like they don't want to help. All they worry about it their bottom line," said Christina Fuoco.

If you're a traveler, you can probably relate. A canceled flight by the airline or by you, worried about putting your health and others at risk.

In Christina Fuoco's case, she called off her trip to New York - a COVID-19 hot spot. Frontier Airlines issued a credit, she says had to be used in three months.

Hoping to get the all clear, Christina took the credit, planning a trip home to Detroit. However, the airline canceled that flight, so she thought she'd get her cash back.

"I called a fifth time and I said, what is going on? And they said, we're giving you a credit," said Christina.

But here's the thing - the airlines are getting billions of dollars from the government. So why can they hang on to your cash?

According to The New York Times, American Airlines is getting $5.8 billion from the plan.

American Told us that they are waiving fees for you to change scheduled flights. However, only if they cancel do you get a refund to your original form of payment.

Delta is getting $5.4 billion.

They told us they are giving travelers a chance to re-book. If that doesn't work they get a credit. Just like American, travelers only get a refund to their original form of payment if the airline cancels or delays the trip.

Lastly, Southwest is getting $3.2 billion.

They say if Southwest cancels the flight, travels get the chance to re-book with no added fees, take a credit or request a cash refund. If you cancel, you get a credit that is good for one year.

So again, why can't customers get their cash back when airlines have cash coming in?

Both of our Arizona Senators - McSally & Sinema - voted for the bailout.

We pushed them to answer why airlines seem to write their own policies. Why weren't there more protections for consumers and should they be giving cash refunds, especially as they receive funds from the Federal Government?

Sinema's office responded by saying, "Arizonans who booked flights should be able to get refunds or credits for future travel."

We asked again, when should a traveler get one or another - No response.

McSally's office did not return our request for comment despite several emails.

Now the Department of Transportation, who oversees airlines, did issue a warning to companies last week. They say despite the Coronavirus, airlines have to issue prompt refunds when a carrier cancels the flight or makes a significant change and the passenger cannot accept the alternative.

Christina says that should be her.

"I understand that they want their buck, but you know, I worked hard for my money as well," said Christina.

When we asked Frontier, they told us they are following DOT rules when it comes to giving refunds. They say they are giving refunds to the original form of payment.

In Christina's case, she booked her latest trip with a travel credit, so she gets to hold onto that credit. She has 90 days to book a trip and a year to actually take it.

We recommend it may be best to wait to cancel as policies are changing constantly.

The airline could end up canceling themselves, so you could get a cash refund over a credit.

We're continuing to push our legislators and the airlines about why they get to hold on to your money.