US DOT rule applicability

Old Apr 3, 20, 12:40 pm
  #1  
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US DOT rule applicability

I read various reports that NZ is trying to evade local rules and trying to implement some rules in their own CoC regarding refunds - specifically their own rule that states that if it is circumstances beyond their control (which COVID-19 is obviously) that they can use their own discretion to either choose a cash refund or a credit.

However, those rules are in direct contradiction to US DOT and EU regulations.

My question is this - if a flight takes off at a US point of departure is the ticket subject to US DOT rules or are the rules based on the domicile of the airline (i.e. in this case New Zealand)? I am assuming the rule applies based on the point of departure. In my case it's LAX so US DOT rules will apply. If this is the case Air New Zealand will face US DOT enforcement actions with regard to denying refunds and their ability to service US markets can be adversely affected if they don't comply.

This has just been released by the US DOT to be clear - Airlines are mandated to give refunds in cash not vouchers:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/03/coro...-are-axed.html
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Old Apr 3, 20, 3:52 pm
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If you read the actual DOT press release, the rules absolutely apply.

The U.S. Department of Transportation today issued an Enforcement Notice clarifying, in the context of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, that U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier. The obligation of airlines to provide refunds, including the ticket price and any optional fee charged for services a passenger is unable to use, does not cease when the flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control (e.g., a result of government restrictions)
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Old Apr 3, 20, 4:05 pm
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Originally Posted by kyanar View Post
If you read the actual DOT press release, the rules absolutely apply.
USA law only applies for USA. USA does not make laws for or in New Zealand.
If a flight was purchased in New Zealand, NZ laws will apply.
New Zealand is a sovereign country.
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Old Apr 3, 20, 4:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
USA law only applies for USA. USA does not make laws for or in New Zealand.
If a flight was purchased in New Zealand, NZ laws will apply.
New Zealand is a sovereign country.
US transport regulator rules apply to all flights to, within, or from that jurisdiction. US DOT has jurisdiction over OP's ticket, which originates within the United States. The United States is also a sovereign country, with the authority to regulate transport within, terminating at, or originating from, its soil. As the flight originated in the United States, US DOT rules apply. You are wrong.
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Old Apr 3, 20, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
USA law only applies for USA. USA does not make laws for or in New Zealand.
If a flight was purchased in New Zealand, NZ laws will apply.
New Zealand is a sovereign country.
You are incorrect. US laws are often extra-territorial and US DOT is one that is. Similarly, other US laws such as the FCPA, Bank Secrecy Act, and Anti-Kickback Act are also extra-territorial.

If a ticket was purchased in New Zealand for travel to/from/within the US, both NZ and US law applies to it.
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Old Apr 3, 20, 6:45 pm
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Originally Posted by kyanar View Post
If you read the actual DOT press release, the rules absolutely apply.
It doesn't get much clearer than that..... 'flights to, within or from". Will be interesting to see if it has any impact.
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Old Apr 3, 20, 8:46 pm
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Thanks for that bit of info. I thought that US DOT rules should apply as well. Of course the US can't force NZ to follow them as they are not a US business, however, it would be absolutely foolish for them to ignore US DOT as their permit to fly to the US is dependent on them following US regulations.

When money has been paid to a business and that business is not providing that service, regardless of the reason, they can't simply appropriate the money for themselves... that is essentially theft.
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Old Apr 4, 20, 4:26 pm
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DOT Ruling on Friday About Refunds

If you booked flights to/from USA then you may wish to know that the DOT ruled yesterday that the airlines MUST refund the cost of the ticket due to COVID 19 cancellations. The ruling explicitly included non-refundable tickets.

See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...celed-by-virus

In particular with respect to Air New Zealand "The directive applies to domestic and foreign airlines for flights to, within, or from the U.S. People are also protected when an airline "
and
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Old Apr 4, 20, 7:37 pm
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Rather than referring people to press releases and news articles, it is best to look at the specific Warning Letter itself. Not a "ruling," simply restates long-standing practice.

https://www.transportation.gov/sites...3%202020_0.pdf

These DOT rules apply to all US carriers and to non-US carriers for flights or from the US. In OP's specific situation, the DOT rule applies to NZ for a departure from LAX.

To be clear, the Warning Letter is not new in the least. These rules have been in effect for many years. The Warning Letter simply advises carriers that if they have wrongfully denied a refund, in light of the Covic-19 emergency, they will not face an enforcement action if they promptly issue the refund.
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Old Apr 5, 20, 8:16 am
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So what is the procedure/steps to get the refund?

Originally Posted by k374 View Post
This has just been released by the US DOT to be clear - Airlines are mandated to give refunds in cash not vouchers:
Originally Posted by kyanar View Post
If you read the actual DOT press release, the rules absolutely apply.
Thank you so much for finding this! I have $4k+ on the line for flights on 06/03 (June 3rd). Now that the DOT have made it clear, what are the steps to get a refund?

I can see two major questions:

a) Who do we approach about the refund: CC, ANZ, DOT

b) When do we approach them? Now given ANZ have suspended all flights to well after our flight dates (i.e. for me until 06/30). Or wait for ANZ to officially cancel the flight?

Personally for a) I've already asked (and received) a credit from the Chase.

To
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Old Apr 5, 20, 9:04 am
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What is the difference between "suspended" and "cancelled"? NZ has either cancelled the specific flight on which you are ticketed or it has not. Also not sure what an "official" notice is. Entirely possible that you will not receive any notice, but will have to look yourself. Then, forget about what you have read and proceed:

1. If the flight has been cancelled, approach NZ for a refund. If there is pushback, just be insistent.
2. If the refund is refused, submit a chargeback to your credit card issuer (bank) and have ready a copy of your e-ticket receipt showing the full routing, the means by which you have confirmed that NZ has cancelled, your demonstration that you requested a refund and NZ's response (or non-response).
3. File a complaint with US DOT. But, remember that DOT does not act for you. It will log the complaint and may take action against NZ. It will also forward your complaint to NZ and require an answer.
4. If your refund arrives after you have initiated a chargeback, simply withdraw the chargeback.

Avoid getting into quasi-legal arguments with front line agents of air carriers.
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Old Apr 5, 20, 10:21 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
What is the difference between "suspended" and "cancelled"? NZ has either cancelled the specific flight on which you are ticketed or it has not. Also not sure what an "official" notice is.
It's ANZ playing games. See attached claiming they can't give you a refund and the link here which says some routes are "suspended" until June 30th but my flight on June 3rd (on one of these routes) is still going ahead ...

https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/trav...239.1586103145

Last edited by usedtobeimportant; Apr 5, 20 at 11:00 am
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Old Apr 5, 20, 11:18 am
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Originally Posted by usedtobeimportant View Post
It's ANZ playing games. See attached claiming they can't give you a refund and the link here which says some routes are "suspended" until June 30th but my flight on June 3rd (on one of these routes) is still going ahead ...

https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/trav...239.1586103145
Bottom line is that the DOT Warning Letter (and the long-standing rules it references) speak in terms of cancellation of a specific flight. If your flight is still operating, then the DOT rules do not apply. They will when & if NZ cancels. There is no reason for you to cancel in advance. No idea when your flight is, but I would just sit back and wait for NZ to cancel your flight.

Your flight is not for 2 months. Don't cancel now. Wait until NZ cancels. If by some odd chance it does operate on 3 June, then you will have to cancel at the last minute and take the voucher.

Carriers are doing this pretty much everywhere, hoping that passengers will simply cancel themselves, but there is no reason for that.
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Old Apr 5, 20, 2:18 pm
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In my situation NZ announced the direct flight route is suspended until 30 May. ExpertFlyer shows the return flight in the system, but zeroed our in all classes. It isnít bookable.

So suspended flights rather than cancellation seems to feature in NZís calculus.


My specific situation for those interested...

Flights were 22 May out indirect WLG-AKL-BNE, with direct return BNE-WLG on 24 May. Dummy bookings on NZís website for direct and indirect flights using their multicity tool yielded no possibilities for the return between city pairs, direct or indirect.

WhatsApp exchanges resulted in statements by NZ that they would be able to provide the return service despite my contrary information. I cannot prove them wrong at this stage, so could only wait wait to late May to see if the return was indeed possible, or cancel myself.

The total fare was $373, and so I elected to cancel and have the $200 taxes refunded (received within 24 hours). I accept the remaining $173 is Ďlostí at this stage.
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Old Apr 6, 20, 3:57 pm
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Received from Air New Zealand

Looks like they are *automatically* giving us a credit. So how should I proceed? Write to Air New Zealand first or just write to DOT.

If I write to Air New Zealand. What verbiage should I use?

"Unfortunately, this includes cancelling the following flight/s on

14 JUN 2020 | NZ7 SAN FRANCISCO-AUCKLAND





This also means that any other domestic or international flights on your booking will be cancelled.

We will automatically credit your flight.

Recently we offered you the option to hold your fare in credit if you did not wish to travel.

Due to the subsequent cancellation of your flight/s, we will now be processing an automatic credit for your fare."
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