WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Airports are empty and flights are canceled. So, how do you get your money back?
"Pursue the refund," said Terry Gerken.
Gerken is president of OHT Travel Group in Toledo, Ohio. He knows travelers' rights. If the airline cancels your flight, you are entitled to a refund.
"You've got to stay on top of knowing whether or not your flight was canceled. The only way you can do that, if you didn't book through a travel agent, is to continuously check with the airlines," said Gerken.
The Department of Transportation is reporting a big increase in complaints, and many are from people having a difficult time getting their refund.
In a typical month, the DOT says it receives about 1,500 complaints. In March, that number jumped to 5,000. In April, it reached 20,000.
Gray Television Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao how the agency is responding to frustrated travelers.
"We actually work with individual passengers on resolving their individual disputes with the airline companies. And I, myself, have spoken with several airline CEOs asking them to pay attention to the whole issue of refunds," said Chao.
"We're asking the airlines to be more flexible, more understanding or accommodating of passengers who may be going through a difficult time in their lives, as well," she said.
Airlines for America lobbies for large airlines like American, Delta and United. They say, "Carriers are working with each and every customer to address their circumstances and situation. We follow and comply with all federal laws and regulations on this matter. Accordingly, when carriers cancel a flight a refund is offered."
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