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New Federal Rules Ensure Cash Refunds for Flight Disruptions

Pete Buttigieg's new rules promise automatic cash refunds for canceled flights.

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In a significant development for air travelers, new federal rules announced by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are set to revolutionize how airlines handle flight disruptions.

These rules mandate that passengers are entitled to automatic cash refunds if their flight is canceled for any reason, and it must be provided promptly.

Under these rules, if your flight is delayed for more than three hours domestically or six hours internationally, or if there's a significant change to your itinerary such as a change in airports, you are entitled to a cash refund. 

This marks a fundamental shift in how airlines are required to compensate passengers for inconveniences beyond their control.

Additionally, the rules require airlines to provide upfront information about fees for baggage and changing flights. 

The new rule formalizes the requirement that passengers receive refunds if a domestic flight is delayed by more than three hours or if an international flight is delayed by more than six hours. 

It also mandates a refund of any baggage fees for bags that arrive more than 12 hours late, as well as a refund of fees for purchased services like Wi-Fi or upgraded seating if the airline doesn’t deliver.

These changes come after a surge in complaints in 2022 about refunds during the coronavirus pandemic, when air travel came to a standstill. 

The Biden Administration proposed the change to refund rules in response to the complaints, which totaled nearly 47,600, more than double the number received in 2021. 

Many travelers complained that airlines were pushing noncash flight credit or requiring extended time on customer service phone lines to request a refund, with some credits expiring long before travel returned to normal levels.

With these new rules, travelers can expect a more transparent and consumer-friendly experience when dealing with flight disruptions. 

Airlines are now required to provide cash refunds promptly and without hassle, ensuring that passengers are fairly compensated for inconveniences beyond their control. This is a significant step forward in protecting the rights and interests of air travelers.

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