A Frontier passenger has filed a class action lawsuit against the airline, saying she and other passengers should be provided with refunds for trips canceled due to the coronavirus.
Shirley Johnson says that after her spring Florida trip was canceled because of the coronavirus crisis, she wanted a refund for her plane ticket purchase.
However, she claims that Frontier Airlines only offered her a flight credit that expired in just 90 days. Now, Shirley is asking for refunds not only for herself, but on behalf of a proposed Class of consumers who were also denied refunds after coronavirus cancellations.
Johnson is a New Jersey resident, who says that on Feb. 27, 2020, she had booked a round-trip flight from Philadelphia to Orlando, Florida. Allegedly, she made her purchase from Frontier Airlines and paid $797.83 for her ticket. According to Johnson, she was set to depart from Philadelphia on April 18, 2020 and return on April 25, 2020.
The Frontier Airlines refund class action lawsuit explains that on April 8, 2020, Johnson was notified by Frontier that her flights had been canceled. In the notification email, the company also offered Johnson a travel credit that would expire in 90 days, by way of compensation for the canceled flight, says Johnson.
In light of receiving that email, Johnson recounts that she asked the company that she be refunded for the cost of her trip, not credited for future trips. She says that this effort was unsuccessful and she did not receive a refund.
Allegedly, the only response she received was an email from the CEO of the airline, sent on May 6, 2020, that outlined how Frontier Airlines was responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Frontier Airlines COVID-19 cancellation class action lawsuit argues that the airline has made a practice of denying refunds to many passengers, in an attempt to pass off the costs of the coronavirus onto its consumers.
Johnson underscores that this treatment of passengers comes despite the federal government’s assistance of the airline industry — in the form of a $25 billion stimulus package to help the industry weather the storm of the coronavirus crisis.
Numerous consumers have complained about the airline’s failure to refund, making the company well aware of passengers’ views on this response, says Johnson.
Additionally, news sources have taken note of Frontier’s coronavirus response — Johnson states that the travel website One Mile at a Time calls Frontier Airlines’ rebooking policy “by far the worst” among its peers. The site says that “giving customers just 90 days to rebook is rather ridiculous when you consider the amount of uncertainty at the moment.”
Johnson argues that the vouchers are virtually worthless and “simply unworkable” because the pandemic has prevented most people from making concrete travel plans well into the future.
According to the plaintiff, the outbreak has also prevented passengers from making plans to travel just 90 days out from their initial trip.
Johnson asserts that Frontier’s failure to offer refunds violates both the company’s contract of carriage and federal law.
The company is reportedly aware or should be aware of its obligations to the law and to its passengers, but is prioritizing profits at the expense of its consumers. The airline’s contract of carriage requires the airline to provide a prompt refund to consumers if the airline cancels a flight, which, Johnson notes, is the case in the coronavirus cancellations.
She also notes that the Department of Transportation itself also requires airlines to offer refunds. Reportedly, on March 31, 2020, a group of Senators including Edward J. Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent a note to Frontier Airlines CEO Barry L. Biffle, reminding him of the company’s obligations to “issue full refunds to all customers” whose flights are canceled during the coronavirus crisis.
Like Johnson, the Senators reportedly pointed to the financial strain that the coronavirus has put on many Americans, and stated that refusing a refund for a flight cancellation beyond the consumer’s control is yet another hardship that the public should not have to endure.
Have you had a flight canceled due to the coronavirus? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Johnson is represented by Shanon J. Carson, and John G. Albanese of Berger Montague, and by Adam E. Polk and Jordan Elias of Girard Sharp LLC.
The Frontier Airlines COVID-19 Flight Cancellation Refund Class Action Lawsuit is Shirley Johnson v. Frontier Airlines, Case No. 1:20-cv-01751, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
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