Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Asks Airlines To Waive Cancellation, Rescheduling Fees For Ill Customers To Contain Flu

May 4, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today announced that to contain the flu, he is asking airlines to waive cancellation and rescheduling fees for customers who miss flights because they are ill.

Under Blumenthal's proposal, consumers may be required to present a doctor's note to have their fees waived.

Blumenthal also urged consumers considering cancelling or postponing trips to Mexico to immediately contact their airline and travel company and to call his office if they have problems or questions.

"During a federally declared public health emergency, travelers should be encouraged -- not penalized -- to avoid flying and infecting countless other passengers when they suffer flu symptoms," Blumenthal said. "I urge airlines to waive often hefty cancellation and rescheduling fees - up to hundreds of dollars -- for customers who miss flights because of sickness in this public health emergency. Airline travel is a powerful conduit for contagion, a potentially fast and furious flu spreader.

"Airlines have a responsibility -- indeed a duty -- to discourage passengers possibly ill with the flu from traveling and spreading the virus. Airlines need to put public health ahead of profit by discarding disincentives -- sometimes crushing cancellation and rescheduling fees -- for sick people to stay home. In the interest of public health, consumers presenting a doctor's note verifying illness should have their cancellation and rescheduling fees forgiven and forgotten.

"I am asking that the airlines do the right thing voluntarily, but I am investigating action that can be taken by state or federal authorities if they refuse. I am contacting the Department of Homeland Security, which has declared a public emergency, and the FAA. The expense to airlines will be minimal compared to the huge costs of treating thousands of passengers infected by sick fellow travelers."

Blumenthal urged consumers wishing to cancel travel to Mexico to immediately check travel insurance they may have and contact their airline and travel company. Most airlines are offering to reschedule flights or offering trips to other destinations, he said.

Anyone with questions or needing assistance regarding Mexico travel arrangements should contact his office at (860) 808-5420.