Airlines across the globe are seeking a break from federal regulations that would require them to fully refund fares paid by customers when the airline cancels its flight. According to NPR, many of the world's airlines cannot afford to give customers refunds for canceled flights as they are running out of money and are on the brink of financial collapse.
Due to the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, air travel demand has plummeted, with U.S. travelers recently saying they would feel the least safe right now on an international flight. Instead of full refunds, airlines have been offering vouchers or credits for future travel, which often have an expiration date. NPR adds that at least Delta and United Airlines have extended the expiration date of their travel vouchers through May 2022 (while many other airlines are still only accepting them through the end of 2020). This is all despite being ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation last week to reimburse customers for cancelled flights.
NPR adds that many airline passenger and consumer advocacy groups have filed complaints against the airlines for failing to follow the regulations. In Canada, according to CBC, a class action lawsuit was filed.
Note: Airlines are not responsible to offer refunds to travelers to cancel their own plans. These travelers will be forced to accept a voucher or credit for a future flight.