WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org, a large airline passenger organization with 30,000 members, called today on US airlines to immediately waive change fees and offer refunds to passengers whose trips have been cancelled due to the Federal Government shutdown.
He noted, "The unprecedented closing of all national parks, hundreds of tourist destinations and nearly all other federal facilities since September 30th has and will continue to require many thousands of travelers to cancel or postpone air travel. This Federal shutdown has become a national travel emergency. Airlines and other travel operators should not profit at the expense of passengers with high change fees and inflexible cancellation policies."
"And unless the shutdown is lifted shortly, air travelers also face a likely air travel slow down as early as next week. FAA air traffic controllers, while still on the job, are not currently being paid, and most air safety inspectors were furloughed starting October 1st."
"Without airlines taking proactive voluntary action, it will be 'Traveler Beware' time as the shutdown makes future travel planning uncertain and potentially subject to costly cancellation and change expenses."
A survey conducted this week of major airlines found that only Delta has waived the usual $200 change fee for travel impacted by the federal shutdown. US Airways, American, United, JetBlue and Allegiant airlines all advised FlyersRights.org that they would continue to impose their regular change of reservation fees (typically $200 per ticket) plus the difference in airfare for changes and would continue to deny refunds for nonrefundable tickets despite the Federal government shutdown. Southwest does not have a change fee, but does charge the fare difference for changes.
Most travel insurance policies also fail to cover trip cancellations due to the Federal shutdown, but travelers should consult with the insurance carrier and their policies for specific information and guidance.