(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Il.)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN) have introduced legislation to help Americans receive cash refunds for flights canceled during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The bill would require both major airlines and third-party ticket sellers to offer full cash refunds for all canceled tickets during the pandemic, whether the airline canceled the flight or the passenger canceled their ticket due to the public health emergency. 

“Families across the country are facing financial insecurity; the least we can do is ensure they can easily get money back from canceled flights,” said Underwood.

The congresswoman said she’s heard from families struggling to get their money back from canceled flights and seniors who’ve had trouble receiving refunds from trips they couldn’t attend due health concerns. 

“At a time when Americans need cash to pay for food, housing, and medical care, the airlines have a moral responsibility to return ticket money to consumers, especially after they received a multi-billion-dollar bailout from the American people,” Cohen said in a statement. 

According to a release, the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act would also: 

  • Allow airlines to give people vouchers, as long as they include a “clear and conspicuous” notice that they can get cash instead if they want.” The vouchers must be indefinitely redeemable.

  • Makes the cash refund right retroactive for any flight canceled on or after March 1. Passengers who have already received a voucher but have not used it can ask for cash instead. 
  • Any flight arriving at or departing from an airport in the United States between March 1 and 180 days after federal emergency declarations for COVID-19 expire

The legislation has been endorsed by the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).