ARC will not hold travel agencies responsible for paying debit memos related to a passenger-compensation dispute or a flight canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ARC issued the guidance because of the “unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the travel agency community,” the company said in a blog post. 

The company said agencies won’t be liable for debit memo payments that fall into either category. Additionally, ARC won’t take action that could affect an agency’s accreditation status against agencies that fail to pay.

ASTA lauded the decision, calling it “exceptional.”

“By not holding travel agencies liable for the payment of such memos, nor taking action against agencies that could affect their accreditation status for failure to do so, is a strong testament to the value and trust placed in the travel agency community by ARC and its owner airlines,” the Society said.

If an agency does get a debit memo falling into either category, there is a new code, “COVID19,” agencies can enter into the Agency Reason field in ARC Memo Manager when disputing the memo. ARC said this will help track these specific debit memos.

If they can’t sue the Agency Reason field, ARC directed agents to use Flex Field 6.

Until further notice, ARC also has extended the Ticket Resolution Services compensatory fee grace period from 15 to 45 days, starting with debit memos loaded on April 9, 2020.

This move, ASTA said, gives agencies and airlines a longer time period to resolve open debit memos.

The ARC Pay chargeback fee has been suspended for an interim period beginning April 9, which ARC hopes will help agents manage costs associated with chargebacks related to the pandemic.

Coupled with the TRS compensatory fee grace period extension, ASTA said this will also be of value to agencies who use ARC’s service fee processing system.

“ASTA appreciates the proactive steps ARC has taken that are beneficial to ASTA members and also appreciates the detailed update provided to senior ASTA leadership in advance of the action,” the Society said.

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