Six airlines required to pay $600+ in delayed refunds after facing federal fines

Hundreds of thousands of frustrated travelers are finally getting their money back for canceled flights.

This comes after the U.S. Department of Transportation issued penalties against six airlines - both domestic and international - for these delays.

Under federal law, when you have a cancellation or extreme delay, and you don’t want the alternative offer then you’re entitled to a refund from the airline.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said you should get your money back within about a week, but he said some airlines were taking months to give people their refunds.

“We have been taking enforcement actions against the airlines that have failed to do that,” said Secy. Buttigieg. “This is just one example of part of why our department is here to support passengers through our consumer protection role. We’re always out there as a watchdog, making sure that airlines treat passengers well, and making sure passengers get good information.”

These companies below collectively paid more than $600 million in refunds to customers.

Frontier – $222 million in required refunds paid and a $2.2 million penalty

Air India – $121.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.4 million penalty

TAP Portugal – $126.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.1 million penalty

Aeromexico – $13.6 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty

El Al – $61.9 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty

Avianca – $76.8 million in required refunds paid and a $750,000 penalty

In a written statement, Frontier said the airline paid the $222 million in refunds “in real time to passengers since 2020.” The company added in part, “Frontier Airlines has issued over $92 million in refunds and redeemed credits and vouchers to customers who voluntarily cancelled their non-refundable tickets during the pandemic and were not entitled to a refund under U.S. law.”

Secy. Buttigieg said these airlines are also facing additional penalties for refund delays.

“Largely because the airlines should not have made it this hard to begin with and we hope that these fines send a message that it’s just not worth dragging your feet on something like this to where we have to get involved,” said Secy. Buttigieg. “We’re actually looking at raising those fines for airlines that take that same unfortunate step in the future.”

DOT also launched a new online dashboard that lists what you’re entitled to if your flight is delayed or canceled because of an airline issue. This could be a free meal or hotel stay.

Full statement from Frontier Airlines:

Frontier Airlines has issued over $92 million in refunds and redeemed credits and vouchers to customers who voluntarily cancelled their non-refundable tickets during the pandemic and were not entitled to a refund under U.S. law. In addition, the company provided over $2.7 million in refunds by voluntarily applying a more generous definition of a significant delay than was in effect at the time for customers who booked and purchased their tickets between March 25 and Oct. 27, 2020.  These goodwill refunds of nearly $100 million demonstrate Frontier’s commitment to treating our customers with fairness and flexibility.  Under the terms of the Consent Order, Frontier will make a total out-of-pocket payment in the amount of $1 million, having received a $1.2 million goodwill refund credit.

[Additional note: The $222M are refunds we made in real time to passengers since 2020. The $92M were for goodwill refunds we provided over and above the DOT requirements. All of these funds have been paid out already.]

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