Coronavirus cancellations: Delta responds to class-action lawsuit over ticket refunds

Delta Air Lines is accused of making it “difficult, if not impossible, for customers to receive any refund” as flights continue to get canceled amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

A class-action complaint, filed Friday on behalf of Maryland resident Elliot Daniels and “all others similarly situated,” alleges that Delta refused to issue a monetary refund for Daniels’ twice-canceled travel plans, instead offering only the option to rebook or receive a voucher for future travel.

Delta, meanwhile, has since responded to the lawsuit in a statement shared with Fox News, claiming Elliot only requested a refund two days before the lawsuit was filed.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division, cites a recent notice issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which reminded airlines of their obligation to provide monetary refunds for cancellations, even when “flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control.”

It all started in February, when Daniels booked two round-trip flights from Washington Dulles International Airport to Cairo, Egypt, at a cost of $3,090.22, according to his attorneys at Hagens Berman. In March, the first leg of his trip — scheduled for April 1 — was canceled, and Daniels was given the option to move up his travel date to March 31. That too was canceled, and Daniels was allegedly informed that he would only be receiving a voucher for the value of his flights, good for one year of the original booking date, despite not knowing “when or if he will be able to use a travel voucher.”

“Delta is focused on keeping passenger money through providing travel credits, not refunds,” the complaint alleges.

Now, Daniels is seeking monetary damages for himself and his fellow Delta customers.

“That Delta is offering time-limited vouchers during an unprecedented time of chaos and uncertainty in our nation’s history only underscores its primary focus of profits over people, and we intend to fight for their right to monetary relief,” said Steve Berman, a partner at the Hagens Berman law firm, in a press release. “Americans are losing their sources of income at alarming rates. Vouchers just won’t cut it.”

Hagens Berman had also brought a class-action lawsuit against United Airlines in early April, on behalf of a customer who claimed the airline refused monetary refunds when the plaintiff’s travel was canceled. Southwest, too, had been hit with a class-action complaint of a similar nature last week, according to the Dallas Morning News.

On April 3, The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) initially issued an enforcement notice “to remind the traveling public, and U.S. and foreign carriers, operating at least one aircraft having a seating capacity of 30 or more seats, that passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are canceled or significantly delayed.”

The DOT said the enforcement notice came in response to “an increasing number of complaints” from passengers claiming they were being denied refunds.

Delta has since issued a statement in response to Daniels’ complaint, claiming the company is “doing right by our customers through refunds and rebookings,” claiming they had processed “more than 1 million” refunds in March alone.

Delta had also confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the airline provided Daniels with a refund for his travel on Saturday, just one day after the class-action lawsuit was filed in Georgia.

Delta is also allowing customers to apply for refunds via its website, although the airline notes that “processing time may take up to 30 business days.”

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