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Senators ask airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits

Senators ask airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits
© Greg Nash

Two Democratic senators are asking airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits to customers. 

In a letter obtained by The Hill, Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to ten airline carriers including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines, asking them to commit to refund all canceled tickets in cash to customers.

Both senators cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason, arguing that many Americans need money to pay “for food, housing, and prescriptions during this emergency.” 

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Airline customers have been complaining about the issue of refunds since the start of the pandemic. In the 107,000 complaints that the Department of Transportation has received, about 89 percent of them are about refunds, according to the department.

Airlines have said that they paid out large sums in cash refunds to customers. Airlines for America (A4A), which represents some of the airlines the senators mention in the letter, told CNN that airlines refunded more cash in 2020 than they had the year before.

The letter comes after lawmakers have given billions of dollars to the industry to help get through the pandemic.

Delta said in a statement that it was giving customers more time to plan and rebook trips more than any other airline offering travel credits through December 2022 for all tickets purchased or expiring in 2021.

Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said in response to The Hill's request for comment that they will let A4A respond for them.