A Minnesota police officer has filed a class-action lawsuit against United Airlines, saying he was denied a refund for three tickets even though it was the airline – not him – who canceled an April 4 flight due to the carrier reducing flights over the coronavirus.
Jacob Rudolph had purchased three tickets in January totaling $1,521 for a flight from Minneapolis to Hilton Head, S.C. When United canceled the flight, the airline told Rudolph he could either rebook his flight for another time or receive credit in that exact amount for future travel.
Rudolph wanted his money back in payment. When the carrier balked, he filed suit in Chicago federal court this week.
“United has engaged in unfair and deceptive conduct through its policy to refuse refunds, limiting and forcing customers into a rebooked flight or travel voucher instead of returning their money,” part of the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed as class-action, meaning other passengers who were denied cash refunds could join in. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages from United and coverage of legal fees.
United, which like virtually every other airline has cut back service almost 80 percent due to the low demand for travel right now, declined to comment on the lawsuit other than to issue a statement noting that “Eligible travelers on domestic flights – and customers with international tickets – can request a refund on United.com or may call our contact centers if their flights have been severely adjusted or service to their destination suspended either due to government mandates or United schedule reductions related to COVID-19.”
That’s a new policy likely triggered by last week’s government intervention. The United States Transportation Department announced Friday it has issued an order to airlines to refund tickets for canceled or significantly altered flights.
This came after hundreds, if not thousands, of frustrated customers and travel agents demanded action.
Whether Rudolph’s lawsuit proceeds forward now or the airline makes good on a cash refund remains to be seen, but the problem of vouchers or credits isn’t just aviation exclusive. Last week, a New York City school filed a lawsuit against the famed Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, saying the resort refused to refund a $2.3 million down payment for a 10-day Passover trip for 1,200 students, parents and staff. The school said it had to cancel due to the coronavirus outbreak in New York, as well as shelter-in-place orders in both New York and Florida.
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