Many airlines have issued vouchers to customers with canceled flights to avoid giving cash refunds. However, some customers are finding that their vouchers are already expiring despite many travel restrictions still being in place. Customers of Frontier Airlines have found that their vouchers required the flights to be rebooked within 90 days. Some vouchers are now worthless.
A 90-day rule
Customers of budget carrier Frontier Airlines are finding out that their refunded travel vouchers are worth nothing. The airline’s policy requires passengers to rebook another flight within 90 days.
Although the flight doesn’t have to operate within that time, the booking must be placed. Passengers can travel any time before September 2021, but for anyone unsure of where or when they want to travel, the policy is frustrating.
One Frontier passenger had her flights canceled in March. The voucher she received was valid for travel until the September 2021 deadline, but she did not want to book a new trip as she was unsure when her cruise holiday would now operate. With the 90 days over, her voucher for over $1,000 is now worthless.
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Legal battles for Frontier
The airline is now facing at least one class-action lawsuit over the rule. Customers say that for this level of uncertainty, rebooking within 90 days is too short. Passengers have stated that the ongoing uncertainty over the pandemic means booking or flying is too complicated right now, and that Frontier should either offer full refunds or extend the rebooking time limit.
Additionally, some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that initially, Frontier was willing to offer a refund. However, as the situation worsened, the airline emailed customers offering a voucher instead with a bonus amount of $50 per ticket. According to the lawsuit, this is against federal law. The suit goes on to claim that
“Through its misstatements and omissions, Frontier sought to deceive its loyal customers into allowing Frontier to avoid its refund obligations while providing only illusory credits likely to expire before Plaintiffs and the Class can use them,”
The lawsuit singles out Frontier, claiming that, “Unlike its competitors, Frontier has engaged in a scheme to evade its obligation to refund to its customers.” Delta is allowing passengers to book and fly throughout 2021 as schedules remain uncertain.
However, some airlines are getting around the problem in other ways. Both American Airlines and British Airways updated their contracts and terms and conditions to say that class-action waivers were no longer applicable. Any legal action against the airline must be taken in private.
But Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines have both had class-action suits taken out against them for withholding refunds. Both airlines had similar clauses in their contracts before the pandemic.
As this is the first mass-cancellation in the history of aviation, this is the first time we’ve seen so many lawsuits for similar issues. It’s unclear how the legal action will be decided because airlines are exempt from most state and local laws. There’s no doubt that as the pandemic continues and more flights are canceled, we will see more lawsuits.