A proposed class action lawsuit alleges Mexican airline Volaris canceled flights due to the novel coronavirus outbreak without issuing refunds or allowing travelers to rebook without paying a penalty.
The 14-page suit states that although the United States closed its border to Mexico due to the COVID-19 pandemic, air travel was not affected by the non-essential ground travel restriction. According to the suit, the entities that operate the “ultra-low-cost” airline canceled many flights to Mexico while providing passengers with neither notice nor refunds, and required travelers to pay a penalty in order to rebook their flights. The lawsuit claims the defendants’ cancellation policy violated not only the companies’ contract of carriage but a Department of Transportation enforcement warning for airlines to uphold their obligation to provide prompt refunds to ticketed passengers for carrier-canceled flights.
The consumer who filed the suit says she and similarly situated travelers bought airfare on Volaris to travel to Mexico’s warmer climates in late winter and early spring, when ticket prices were at their most expensive peak. According to the case, flight disruptions out of a carrier’s control, including COVID-19 cancellations, do not relieve an airline of its duty to provide refunds to customers. Volaris canceled the plaintiff’s flight on March 19, the day before it was set to depart for Mexico, the suit says.
“Notwithstanding the foregoing, Volaris has in recent weeks canceled its flights from the United States to Mexico, without providing refunds to its passengers and/or requiring them to pay a penalty to rebook their travel,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that in lieu of refunds, Volaris has offered flight credits without informing travelers of their right to a full refund or to rebook without being penalized.
Per the plaintiff, the case says the woman made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Volaris by phone, email and social media before the airline finally got in touch with her on March 23. During a phone call, Volaris allegedly refused to refund the $636.57 the plaintiff paid in June 2019 for her canceled airfare. According to the suit, Volaris eventually offered the plaintiff a $404.45 credit under the condition that she use the voucher for another Volaris flight between April 6 and July 5, 2020, or risk losing her total investment in the initial ticket purchase.
The lawsuit looks to represent those who reside in the U.S. or its territories who bought airfare on Volaris airlines for travel between March 20 and April 20, 2020 and whose flights were canceled without being offered a refund and/or were required to pay a rebooking penalty.