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Do Airlines Owe Refunds for Overcrowded Flights During Coronavirus?

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Worried about the crowd on your next flight, but also worried about the money of your ticket going to waste?

This is a question that many Americans are asking themselves as they prepare to fly. And, while we know that a plane is not the safest place to be during the pandemic, there are precautions. One of those precautions? Avoiding crowds so that you can properly adhere to social distancing protocols.

So, if you do end up on a flight that may have too many people on it, can you get a refund on that plane ticket?

Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal analyst joined TheStreet to answer a question many Americans are now forced to ask themselves. 

Watch the interview above for more.

Video Transcript:

Katherine Ross: One industry being hit particularly hard by the Coronavirus pandemic is the airline industry. And there's a lot of questions about whether or not this will permanently impact the airline industry. Here to lend her legal expertise is Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator, and legal analyst. Rebecca, I wanna start by asking a question that I think is on everyone's mind and that is, if I'm on a flight that's semi-full or fully-full, do I legally have the right to get a refund or am I just out of luck?

Rebecca Rose Woodland: You know, Katherine, this has been coming up so often. We've seen these video footage from cell phones of people on flights that are overcrowded, some people wearing masks, passengers, some flight attendants wearing masks, some not. It seems like there's very little regulation. And it seems like there's very little understanding of what should be done. So what's happening right now is that the airline industry is kind of in flux. They're 90% down in flights, right? Delta Airlines alone say that their burn rate daily is $50 million. So we have the Department of Transportation, which is a federal agency that regulates the airlines, trying to give guidelines and trying to give an understanding of where we should go but the airlines are giving some pushback. So what I say is, if you want a refund call the Department of Transportation and continue to push with the airline, because we've seen... And this is another quote from Delta. $160 million just this month in refunds to non-refundable tickets to passengers, because of complaints of either unable to travel due to COVID or once people get to the airport and see the flight is crowded, they say, "Hey, I'm not going on this flight. Are you crazy? "I'm scared to get the disease myself "and I wanna be more protected."

Katherine Ross: Are these new safety guidelines that we're seeing are they here to stay?

Rebecca Rose Woodland: You know, Katherine, I think moving forward, we're going to see at least within the next year or two, until we see a vaccine or some sort of cure, these are safety guidelines that have to be insured because the airlines not only are regulated by the Department of Transportation, you have the ability as a passenger, as a group of passengers to file a class action or toward action if you get sick and you can directly relate it to a plane flight. So you know, these airlines have to look at their liability moving forward, their insurance carriers, looking at what the standard should be now moving forward. I think it's really important for the airlines to look at not only their bottom line now, but what their liability and their payments further out could look like.

Katherine Ross: Rebecca as always, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. And for more on the Coronavirus pandemic, head on over to

You can follow Katherine Ross on Twitter at @byKatherineRoss.

Read more from Katherine Ross here

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