Attorney General Phil Weiser urges U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen federal rules for airline ticket refunds and consumer protections
Dec. 19, 2022 (DENVER) – As families and airlines nationwide prepare for the bustling holiday travel season, Attorney General Phil Weiser is leading a bipartisan coalition of 34 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen protections for airline consumers and provide meaningful relief to those whose flights are unexpectedly canceled or significantly delayed.
“Coloradans tell our office often about airlines over-complicating refunds, not adhering to their cancellation policies, and generally making travel challenging and costly,” Weiser said. “As many Coloradans are planning to travel during the holidays and looking forward to seeing loved ones, now is a good time to remind USDOT that it has the opportunity to hold airlines accountable when they mistreat consumers, helping add ease to consumers’ future travel plans and lessen unexpected financial burdens.”
Weiser previously alerted the USDOT to Coloradans’ concerns about Frontier Airlines’ practice of canceling flights and then failing to issue consumers proper refunds, delaying responses in refund delivery, and making contacting customer service unduly difficult.
In a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg regarding the department’s proposed rules for airline ticket refunds and consumer protections, the attorneys general urge the USDOT to adopt a new framework that ensures that it responds to and addresses concerns brought to the agency by state attorneys general promptly, and to develop clearer protocols to ensure timely and effective enforcement. Recommendations in the letter include the following:
- USDOT should require airlines to advertise and sell only flights that they have adequate personnel to fly and support, and perform regular audits of airlines to ensure compliance and impose fines on airlines that do not comply;
- USDOT should make clear that it will impose significant fines for cancellations and extended delays that are not weather-related or otherwise unavoidable;
- USDOT should prohibit airlines from canceling flights while upselling consumers more expensive alternative flights to the same destinations; and
- USDOT should require that credits and vouchers for future travel that are provided by airlines in the event of cancellation can be used easily without inappropriate limitations.
Last month, the federal transportation department fined Frontier Airlines and ordered refunds to consumers who were treated unfairly during the height of the covid-19 pandemic. Weiser, whose office received hundreds of complaints about Frontier, said his office will continue monitoring concerns from consumers. Colorado consumers who did not receive a required refund or were not allowed to use an issued credit for another flight should file a report at StopFraudColorado.gov.
Joining Weiser on the bipartisan letter to USDOT are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.