Airlines want to cancel rule requiring them to refund fares for canceled flights

hhs | 218 points

Is it really that bad if some airlines fail? That whole industry really needs to be restarted IMO. Their assets would be purchased at a major discount by others who would likely create new airlines, or you might potentially see the healthiest ones consolidate the market (which wouldn't be the best outcome). Also, why isn't there consideration for nationalization of one of these failed airlines rather than giving them tax payer money even as a loan?

rafiki6 | 2 months ago

Over the last decade, airlines spent 96% of their free cash flow buying back stock[1]. This improves the stock value for investors (and executives). Rather than requesting bailouts and rule changes, imo they should be selling that stock to raise capital.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-16/u-s-airli...

nilram | 2 months ago

There are certain industries like airline (but also healthcare, telecom, etc) that just make a living out of screwing over consumers in any way possible.

It is so exhausting to deal with - I don't have the energy to dispute every single time a company pulls one of these stunts to fight for myself to get the baseline level of not being treated like trash. This is exactly what consumer protection agencies and regulations and other laws are meant to protect against, but these institutions are failing us daily.

arkadiyt | 2 months ago

We paid for that product. If they can't deliver the service, we are owed our money back. This would be fraud. Congress sells out the american people to corporations on these things. If revolution happens in the USA, it will be because congress and corporations pull this kind of corruption.

HashThis | 2 months ago

If the airlines really need the money to survive then they should treat it as a loan and when it's over refund the customers plus interest.

United857 | 2 months ago

We should make them refund above how much they charged as a fee to them.

It's kind of funny when the shoe is on the other foot. They're upset when they're required to follow the law. They want to sell nothing but refundable tickets which they can oversell, but the minute they can't meet their obligation they're crying to the government.

monksy | 2 months ago

Simple rule. No assistance unless they offer refunds. No assistance unless they stop any stock buy back programs, end all executive bonuses, and they must pay back and assistance before resuming either.

Sorry airlines, but the company I work for which is quite large has funds to sustain interruptions because you just don't do business otherwise. scrap bonuses, merit increases, all unnecessary expenses, and they borrow, and if you cannot then you were not preparing yourself for much of anything except good times.

Shivetya | 2 months ago

Is this an actual airline-specific regulation? I would expect the ordinary law of contracts to already provide that, when one party unilaterally cancels a contract, they don't get to keep the consideration from the other party.

thaumasiotes | 2 months ago

I don't agree with bailouts or rule changes for airlines. Why should they get rule changes, while I am a simple citizen can't get jobseekers allowance (too much savings) or break on paying rent during this time?

wdb | 2 months ago

The world's smallest violin is playing for Spirit Airlines right now.

selimthegrim | 2 months ago

That's a great way to put themselves out of business. If they don't want to play a fair game, you can well be assured that people will stop using their products as much as they could be.

ping_pong | 2 months ago

I have five flights booked through Lufthansa (2 turned out to be United) for a US flight which is kinda expensive. It's a non-refundable, so fair is fair. The thing that did upset me the most is that their website mentions that I can rebook now. I do call their, rather, horrible consumer service. They suggest that I should go to their office so that I can change the booking. That's, obviously, not possible because of the confinement order.

Now I rechecked their website and it seems that I might be able to get a voucher for my ticket value that will be valid until 31 August. They must be joking as I don't think flights will be open (in any meaningful capacity) until 2021 or late 2020.

My sister had Turkish tickets (non-refundable) and she was able to get miles for them.

csomar | 2 months ago

If you are unable to provide a service people paid for, then you give them their money back. It's pretty simple.

You can give people an option to leave as credit (e.g., we'll give you $400 of credit instead of a $300 refund) but it should be just that - an option.

xivzgrev | 2 months ago

I'm STILL waiting for United (or Expedia) to send me a refund after 2 weeks. I had a cancelled international flight and neither is sending me my refund.

I don't think many of us have just thousands of dollars to just not get back.

ar_lan | 2 months ago

I think this is okay, provided they issue a cash-value voucher that does not expire (or expires at least 2 years out). There shouldn't be any nonsense about things being locked to the same region or destination because people may no longer be interested in going to the same place in the future, plus for international trips they may not be eligible for a visa in the future if the purpose of the trip no longer exists.

To be even better, it should not be locked to the same person either. If I have no use to fly (example) Hawaiian Airlines, I should be able to sell that voucher to others.

diebeforei485 | 2 months ago

I have three flights booked through July with United, and I'm likely going to have to cancel all three of them without a refund. Another rub is that they've changed the flight schedules on all my flights 4x now since February, and there is no option to view the original schedule of my flights. I believe a few of my trips have been ruined by these schedule changes (e.g. won't be able to make it for dinner with friends, or now can't get back before an ungodly hour in the early AM), but I can't confirm the original schedules...

Rafuino | 2 months ago

Why don't they have savings to get them through unexpected financial problems? Oh right: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-16/u-s-airli...

We can't be held responsible for their own financial mismanagement - likewise they should not be eligible for any bailout funds - or they can sell their stock on the market to raise funds.

olliej | 2 months ago

Issue a chargeback.

hedora | 2 months ago

So the financial equivalent of being beaten and dragged off a plane. Airlines couldn't be anymore customer-hostile unless they needle behind the ear, shrink-wrapped people and threw them into piles like rolls of carpet.

awaythrower | 2 months ago

This sounds a lot like all the gym memberships that suddenly became impossible to cancel (seriously).

Since when is keeping money for doing absolutely nothing as promised the American way?

ck2 | 2 months ago

I thought most airlines are not giving refund due to coronavirus cancellations but rather like a voucher or an option to rebook.

vinni2 | 2 months ago

Hey, let the market decide. If they don't give refunds and their competitors do, then they go out of business.

rapjr9 | 2 months ago

From the article:

> "But instead of honoring their obligation to give refunds, many airlines have only been offering vouchers and credits for future travel, which customers often must use before the end of the year."

This happened to me with Alaska Air on a nonrefundable fare, but I have to use the credit 1 year from the date of cancellation, which in my case would be around March of 2021. My hope is a vaccine will be available by then, or at least by the time I actually fly in 2021.

I originally purchased the tickets with another credit that expired at the end of April 2020. If you try to cancel on Alaska's web site, before you press submit, you have to check a box that says "By cancelling this flight online, I agree to FORFEIT all credits/vouchers I used to purchase the flight." That's when I called a representative and explained the situation - and had a great experience - all credits refunded and extended for another year. Just took one 15 minute call. Happy to fly Alaska again.

odysseus | 2 months ago

Why don't they just sell some airplanes to covert the refund costs?

Cantbekhan | 2 months ago

How about we loan them the money at 16% interest, which is about the average interest rate for an airline credit card.

And the loans go to the front of the line in any bankruptcy proceedings.

Then I’m okay with allowing them to make their own silly rules.

hurricanetc | 2 months ago

If the vouchers were good for 10 years I might be ok with it

fredthomsen | 2 months ago

Is there anybody who is still sympathetic to airlines?

objektif | 2 months ago

No bailouts for the airlines.

jdkee | 2 months ago

I'm OK with airlines being allowed to never refund fares for cancelled flights on one condition:

Every time a flight is cancelled, the CEO and every manager below him/her is required to commit ritual suicide.

bovermyer | 2 months ago

I don't feel bad for them ... they used the previous bailout to buy back their stock and then spent their profits to buy back more. Maybe they should put some of those shares back on the market if they need money?

smoyer | 2 months ago

> "The key element for us is to avoid running out of cash so refunding the canceled ticket for us is almost unbearable financially speaking," IATA Director General Alexandre De Juniac said.

I think he just said that it's too financially risky for a consumer to book a flight, lest they be forced to have their ticket converted to an unsecured loan, "secured" with something that they didn't want (a flight next year) that may expire anyway. They're selling you a gift card.

I'm surprised that people are still flying in closed up metal tubes during this pandemic. If anything the airlines should be giving discounts to lure consumers, and even that is morally questionable.

Flights at this point should be freight or emergency only, for national medical needs and repatriation.

a3n | 2 months ago