April 7, 2020
The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued an Enforcement Notice clarifying, in the context of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, that U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier. The obligation of airlines to provide refunds, including the ticket price and any optional fee charged for services a passenger is unable to use, does not cease when the flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control (e.g., a result of government restrictions). Read Enforcement Notification
What does this mean?
The focus is not on whether the flight disruptions are within or outside the carriers control, but rather on the fact that the cancellation is at no fault to the passenger.
The Aviation Enforcement Office will allow airlines a chance to become compliant without taking any further action, and did not provide a deadline for when enforcement action would begin.