ASTA Provides Tips After Recent Airline Bankruptcies

In the wake of announcements by Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines suspending flight operations and declaring bankruptcy, ASTA is urging consumers to check with their travel agent to examine their travel options. As a last resort, consumers may have to deny the credit card charge.

“The suspension of flight service by Aloha and ATA only serves to emphasize how critical it is that consumers receive sound, third-party advice, the kind that travel agents provide each and every day,” said Cheryl Hudak, ASTA president and CEO. “Travelers do have options but with most airlines operating at near capacity, accessing these options might not be easy for them to do on their own.”

All affected passengers, especially those in transit who need to return to their original destination, should review all options for traveling on other airlines. Following the cessation of a major airline, some airlines may make special concessions to affected ticket holders by offering special rates or waiving advance purchase restrictions, yet there is currently no federally mandated protection that requires any airline to provide alternate transportation.

If all else fails travelers who paid by credit card can deny the charge. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, ticketed passengers have certain rights to refuse to pay credit card charges related to services that were not provided. As a result, ticketed passengers who made payment by credit card for travel on a bankrupt airline should contact their credit card company immediately to dispute the charge. Cardholders have 60 days from the time they receive the billing statement on which a charge first appears to refuse payment for services not rendered.

Consumers can also file a claim, ASTA says. If no refund options are provided by the bankruptcy trustee, ticketed passengers who paid by cash/check or whose credit card dispute was denied by their credit card bank should file a Proof of Claim with the Bankruptcy Court, which will provide details regarding claim procedures. ASTA advises consumers to find a member travel agent at (GD)

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