New legislation proposed to require airlines to offer refunds to all passengers amid the pandemic

Posted at 6:09 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 08:59:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - On Wednesday, a group of democratic lawmakers proposed new legislation that would require airlines to offer refunds to all passengers during the pandemic.

The lawmakers, including California Senator Kamala Harris, have introduced the "Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act of 2020."

"For clients, it has been very frustrating," says Dorotea Brunetto, owner of Blossom Valley Travel in East County. She tells 10News that she’s been busy with trip changes and cancellations for her clients and says many airlines are avoiding giving cash back. "Now, they're really sticking to the vouchers versus giving a refund."

Airlines have traditionally been required to issue refunds to travelers whose flights are canceled, but it hasn't applied to travelers who cancel their own flights. Those passengers often only get credits or vouchers for future travel. The new legislation seeks to change that for travelers who've had to forgo trips amid safety concerns and stay-at-home orders during the pandemic.

This week, the Department of Transportation reported that 25,000 traveler complaints have poured in over the last two months. Many of them are over refunds.

Brunetto says some airlines have been cooperative. Others haven’t. Some of her senior clients worry that they may not be in good enough health to travel a year or two from now.

"If they're over a certain age, they should get their money back and forget the voucher and when they're ready to travel, let them travel with a brand-new slate," she adds.

She says clients are reluctant to book travel until 2021 because there's still so much that's unknown.

"I mean who wants to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a trip and it's going to be shut down and they're be dealing with all these repercussions," she says.