If you’ve booked or canceled a flight during the pandemic, you’ve probably noticed that airlines have updated their policies for issuing and using vouchers.
Now a number of airline vouchers are getting closer to their expiration date.
Christina Liao is one of those passengers who may have to deal with expired ticket vouchers. In December 2020, she booked four tickets with American Airlines. She planned to bring her young children to Orlando in April 2021.
When the family couldn’t get vaccinated in time for the trip, Liao decided to postpone it.
“American Airlines promptly emailed me saying, ‘Hey, you know, your trip has been cancelled. Rest assured, your travel credit with us is safe and just come back to us when you’re ready to rebook’, said Liao.
There was no expiration date for her travel credit in the email. So Liao said she called the airline and learned she needed to book her flights and travel by the end of 2021.
But for Liao, that’s a problem. According to her, her children are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. For that reason, she does not feel comfortable traveling. She asked American Airlines to extend her travel credit until 2022, but her request was denied.
Seeking help, she filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation and contacted Responds.
NBC10 Responds asked American Airlines what it recommends passengers do if their ticket vouchers expire and they do not qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine under CDC guidelines.
American Airlines replied, “Our policy clearly states that airline tickets have a validity period of 12 months and therefore travel credits have a validity period of 12 months as well. That said, our team has been working around the clock during the pandemic to take care of our customers, including more by providing additional flexibility to ensure those who want to change their travel plans have options and time to do so.”
In the case of Liao, the airline said: “In this case, we are offering the customer additional flexibility to use its travel credits in 2022. As we welcome travelers to the air, we continue to evaluate our travel waiver policies and travel credits during these uncertain times.”
Industry-wide impact on consumers
The issue of expired airline vouchers is not unique to one airline.
“Right now it’s a massive problem, and it’s only going to get worse,” said the consumer group Travelers United.
The group said that expiring vouchers for airline tickets are an industry-wide problem, and they want airlines to change their policies so that the vouchers never expire.
“The president and the secretary of transportation can simply say we’re issuing an emergency rule, and then we can move on,” said Charlie Leocha, president of Travelers United, adding that if you’re denied an extension like Liao was, you can get an extension. file a complaint with the Ministry of Transport.
“I think the more responses we get to the airlines, the more they will change,” Leocha said.
Travelers United told NBC 10 Responds that it will meet with the US Secretary of Transportation in the coming weeks to discuss airline policies.
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