JetBlue has been one of the worst airline offenders, refusing to give customers their money back for cancelled flights. Like many airlines they decided to just keep the cash, a bailout in the form of an interest-free loan from their customers entirely apart from the big one that’s coming from the federal government.
They cancelled my flight, and moved me to one 10 hours later. I told them this was unacceptable and I wanted a refund and was flat out refused. This was yesterday.
Today the Department of Transportation came forward and said their rules are not optional, even when cancellations are outside of an airline’s control, and they’d pursue enforcement action if needed. An airline can’t keep money from a customer while not providing the agreed-upon service just because they need the money (and regardless of how much they need the money). That’s theft.
So I went back to my own Twitter private message thread with JetBlue and asked for a refund. They promptly confirmed I would receive one.
The Department of Transportation’s enforcement notice to airlines emphasizing that “passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. ” The notice specifically says that COVID-19 is not an excuse.
DOT is telling airlines that continuing to deny refunds for cancelled flights and significant schedule changes is “a violation of the carriers’ obligation that could subject the carrier to an enforcement action.”
However the government will not act against airlines that have improperly refused refunds already provided:
- “the carrier contacts, in a timely manner, the passengers provided vouchers for flights that the carrier cancelled or significantly delayed to notify those passengers that they have the option of a refund”
- “the carrier updates its refund policies and contract of carriage provisions to make clear that it provides refunds to passengers if the carrier cancels a flight or makes a significant schedule change”
- “the carrier reviews with its personnel, including reservationists, ticket counter agents, refund personnel, and other customer service professionals, the circumstances under which refunds should be made.”
It appears JetBlue did #2 and #3 fairly quickly, at least based on my interaction with them on twitter today.