Six airlines have been ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation to pay more than $600 million in refunds to customers in relation to delayed or canceled domestic flights this year, NBC News reports.
Frontier Airlines is scheduled to pay $222 million in refunds, the highest total of the six airlines targeted, which also include TAP Portugal, Air India, Aeromexico, El Al and Avianca.
Frontier has also been handed down a $2.2 million fine, according to NBC News.
“When a flight gets canceled, passengers seeking refunds should be paid back promptly,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, said in a statement obtained by NBC News on Monday (November 14). “Whenever that doesn’t happen, we will act to hold airlines accountable on behalf of American travelers and get passengers their money back. A flight cancellation is frustrating enough, and you shouldn’t also have to haggle or wait months to get your refund.”
Airlines and ticket agents are required by U.S. law to refund customers if a domestic flight is canceled or significant changes are made and the passenger doesn’t accept the alternative offered, the department said while explaining its decision.
Domestic carriers are currently averaging the lowest of on-time flights and highest delay rates for a single years since 2014, as well as the highest rate of cancellations for any year in the past decade excluding 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Airlines are still feeling the effects of the initial travel restrictions and lockdowns brought on in the earlier months of the COVID-19 pandemic as they struggled to meet the rising demand of airline travel once restrictions were lifted, which caused mass delays and cancelations.