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Six airlines have to pay $600 million in refunds due to pandemic delays

Frontier Airlines and five foreign airlines have agreed to refund more than $600 million to travelers whose trips have been canceled or significantly delayed since the start of the pandemic, federal officials said Monday.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also said it had fined the same airlines more than $7 million for delaying refunds so long that they violated consumer protection regulations.

The largest U.S. airline accounted for the majority of refund complaints and avoided fines. Officials said other U.S. airlines were not being investigated for possible fines.

Consumers rushed to agencies thousands of complaints About not being able to get refunds when airlines canceled a huge number of flights after the pandemic hit the US in early 2020. This was the main category of complaints.

“When Americans buy tickets from an airline, they expect to get to their destination safely, reliably and affordably, and our job at DOT is to ensure that airlines It’s about holding the company accountable for those expectations.”

He added, “This should not have happened in the first place. There should be no enforcement action from the U.S. Department of Transportation to force airlines to pay any refunds they are required to pay.”

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frontier refund

The department said Frontier Airlines will refund $222 million and pay civil penalties of $2.2 million.

In a consent order, the government accused Frontier of changing its definition of long delays to make refunds less likely and that the online system that processes credits was down for 15 days in 2020.

Frontier spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said the Denver-based airline had a non-refundable ticket that she canceled herself and was ineligible for a refund under federal law. It said it had made “good faith refunds” of about $100 million, including those who were

De la Cruz said the refunds “show Frontier’s commitment to being fair and flexible with its customers.”

5 other airlines fined

Five other airlines have paid fines and issued refunds, according to the Ministry of Transport.

TAP Portugal will refund $126.5 million and pay a fine of $1.1 million. Air India will refund $121.5 million and he will pay a $1.4 million penalty. Aeromexico will pay her $13.6 million and her $900,000 fine. Israel’s El Al pays his $61.9 million plus his $900,000 penalty. Colombia’s Avianca Airlines will pay $76.8 million and her $750,000 fine.

Buttigieg said at a press conference that “further enforcement actions and investigations are underway, and there may be more news of fines being issued.”

However, other U.S. airlines have no fines because they responded “immediately after” the Department of Transportation reminded them of their obligation to provide expedited refunds in April 2020. Protection.

“There are no lawsuits pending against other US airlines. The remaining lawsuits are against foreign airlines,” Warkey said in the same call with Buttigieg.

This did not satisfy consumer advocates, who said major U.S. airlines also violated rules on refunds.

“Frontier is a bad player in all of this and they deserve to be fined and I’m glad they’re paying the refund they owe. Biggest fish and most problems.” It’s what’s causing it,” said Bill McGee of the American Economic Liberties Project, a nonpartisan group that opposes the concentration of industrial power.

“Airlines that brazenly ignore the rules deserve to be fined,” he said.

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United Airlines had the most refund-related complaints filed with the DOT in 2020, with over 10,000. Air Canada, El Al and TAP Portugal next surpassed his 5,000, while American Airlines and Frontier surpassed his 4,000.

Air Canada agreed to pay $4.5 million last year to settle a similar US claim of late refunds and was given $2.5 million in credit for refunds. The Department of Transportation originally wanted him for $25.5 million in the matter.

CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave contributed to the report.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/frontier-airlines-refund-600-million-delays-cancellations/ Six airlines have to pay $600 million in refunds due to pandemic delays

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