NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new bill in the Senate would require airlines to give cashback to flyers who canceled their flight due to COVID-19. New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are both backing the bill calling for airlines to offer the choice for flyers of either a cash refund or voucher.
The bill would also allow airlines to pay cash refunds with emergency money from Congress and mandate that cash refunds be offered for six months after the end of the pandemic.
“This bill is simple common sense. At a time when Americans need cash to pay for food, housing, and medical care, consumers should be able to receive cash refunds for travel arrangements that were made before they knew the full impact that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on not just travel plans, but also on their family’s health and livelihood,” said Sen. Udall in a press release. “When billions of dollars of taxpayer money was spent to help airlines stay afloat, the least airlines can do is give struggling New Mexicans and Americans their money back for cancelled trips.”
The United States Senators for New Mexico said a recent investigation revealed that the airline industry could be holding onto over $10 billion of hard-earned money from American travelers.
“I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to uphold consumer protections and ensure that travelers receive a full cash refund for canceled airline tickets during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Sen. Heinrich in the same press release. “I will keep fighting to put these dollars back in the pockets of hard-working New Mexicans and minimize financial uncertainties during what has become the greatest public health crisis of our generation.”
- Require major airlines and third-party ticket sellers to offer full cash refunds for all canceled tickets during the coronavirus pandemic, no matter whether the airline canceled the overall flight or the passenger canceled their individual ticket
- Permit airlines and third-party ticket sellers to offer travel vouchers as an alternative to cash refunds, as long as that voucher is valid indefinitely and the offer includes clear and conspicuous notice of the flyer’s right to a cash refund
- Allow airlines to pay for cash refunds with any emergency money made available by Congress, except for the CARES Act grants designated for supporting worker payroll expenses and employee benefits
- Establish that the new right is retroactive to any flight on or after March 1, 2020, so that passengers who previously received a travel voucher, but have not used it, can ask for a cash refund now
- Mandate that cash refunds be available until 180 days after the end of the nationwide COVID-19 emergency declarations, which will give consumers six extra months of flexibility and peace of mind so they don’t have to travel until they truly feel safe flying again