National Consumers League

National Consumers League statement on lack of airline passenger protections in COVID-19 relief bill

March 26, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC--The National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, today called the Senate’s failure to include consumer protections for airline passengers in the COVID-19 relief bill a missed opportunity to protect the flying public. The bill, which passed the Senate on a 96-0 vote and appears headed toward passage in the House of Representatives, does not contain the passenger protections, supported by consumer groups, that were in Speaker Pelosi’s proposed bill.  

The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League: 

"Airlines are canceling flights by the hundreds, leaving consumers who have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on planned vacations and other travel high and dry. We are seeing disturbing reports that those customers, whose flights were canceled through no fault of their own, are being given the run-around by the airlines when they try to get a refund. A one-year flight voucher is of no use to consumers who don’t know when the current COVID-19 outbreak will subside.  

In spite of this, the Senate approved a COVID-19 relief that did not require even the most basic of passenger protections of the airlines. While we applaud Congress for putting checks into the hands of the most vulnerable consumers and protecting the livelihood of millions of airline workers, it should have done more to protect the passengers who are the lifeblood of the industry. It is likely that this will not be the last time that the airlines come to Congress asking for a taxpayer bailout due to the COVID-19 outbreak. NCL will continue to press our elected representatives to ensure that consumers’ needs are not left unaddressed in the next relief bill.” 

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.