Nelson calls on airlines to cap fares ahead of Maria

Sep 18 • 245 Views • View Comments

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today sent letters to the CEOs of 10 major U.S.-based airlines urging them to begin capping airfares for those fleeing the path of Hurricane Maria.

“As you know, Hurricane Maria is a major hurricane and is threatening Puerto Rico and the Caribbean now and may be a threat to the U.S. coast by next week,” Nelson wrote. “Therefore, I urge you to begin the process now for implementing capped airfare and ensuring that refunds are promptly issued for cancelled flights.”

“Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare,” Nelson added.

Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the nation’s airline industry, sent letters to the heads of American, United, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Alaska, Hawaiian, Frontier and Allegiant.

Following is the text of Nelson’s letter:

September 18, 2017

Mr. Robin Hayes
Chairman and CEO
JetBlue
27-01 Queens Plaza North
Long Island City, NY 11101

Dear Mr. Robin Hayes:

In the days leading up to Hurricane Irma making landfall in Florida, I communicated to many airlines the concerns of individuals and families facing the prospect of paying excessive airfare to evacuate areas within the hurricane’s path. My office received many complaints about airfare pricing during this time. Information and screenshots of airfare well into the thousands of dollars were widely covered by news outlets and documented on social media.

I appreciate that several airlines ultimately capped airfare for some flights to and from affected areas after listening to these concerns. However, your assistance in preventing future airfare spikes in advance of hurricanes and making policies regarding capped airfares available to the public is needed immediately.

As you know, Hurricane Maria is a major hurricane and is threatening Puerto Rico and the Caribbean now and may be a threat to the U.S. coast by next week. Therefore, I urge you to begin the process now for implementing capped airfare and ensuring that refunds are promptly issued for cancelled flights. I also request that your policies on capped airfare be communicated clearly and in writing so that affected residents can evacuate quickly and safely. Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare.

I appreciate your consideration of my request and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

 

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