The U.S. airlines are currently seeking $58 billion in federal relief due to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis, and ASTA wants airlines to better clarify ticket refund and exchange procedures as a part of any deal.

The Society has released a list of things it wants to airlines to do for travel agent bookings:

• Ensuring travelers who have booked through an agency are advised to contact their advisor to process refunds and exchanges rather than directly on the carrier’s website.

• Ensuring all tickets are fully refundable and not merely credited for future travel.

• Permitting travel advisors to process all refunds via ARC.

• Protecting original agency commissions/incentives on air bookings should the tickets be exchanged or rebooked. 

• Protecting advisor commissions on refunded tickets.

• Confirming and/or clarifying that penalty charges or change fees will not apply for canceled or rebooked flights during the Covid-19 crisis.

• Ensuring travelers the opportunity to use any credit issued for unused tickets for a minimum of two years from the original departure date.

• For those tickets booked on or after March 1, extending the window for rebooking flights to one year from date of travel with no change fees.

• Ensuring ancillary fees are fully refunded to the traveler for any travel booked in 2020 and subsequently canceled.

In a statement, ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said he commended suppliers that have already relaxed rebooking and cancellation requirements, but that more relief is necessary. 

Kerby also specifically thanked suppliers who are paying commissions and incentives at the time of booking, not at the time of travel. He asked airlines to do the same.

“Recognizing the value travel advisors play in the booking process and the trusted place in advisors by the traveling public will help ensure the long-term success of the travel industry as it rebounds in a post-Covid-19 world,” he said.

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