United Airlines fined for failing to make prompt refunds

This post has been updated, 3:40 p.m.

United Airlines has been fined $350,000 for failing to make prompt refunds to consumers, and federal officials noted other issues including the handling of baggage and animals traveling in the airline’s care.

Between March and May 2012, officials with the Department of Transportation said in a statement released last week, United failed to process more than 9,000 refund requests in a timely matter.

Airlines are required to process refund requests within seven days of receipt of a complete request when the ticket is purchased by credit card. Refunds must be made within 20 days for tickets purchased by cash or check. For that, the airline was fined $350,000.

DOT officials said in the statement that they also found other problems with the airline’s operations.

Between January and October 2011, DOT officials said that United underreported the number of mishandled baggage reports it received from passengers. In addition, in 2011, the airline also underreported and the number of passengers it bumped, both voluntarily and involuntarily from flights on which it overbooked. Because of the inaccuracies, the airline received a higher ranking in DOT’s reports of airline performance in these categories.

During 2012 and 2013, DOT officials said United failed to file timely reports for a few incidents involving the death, injury or loss of animals on its flights. The airline was not fined for these incidents because United disclosed them to the department and took corrective action, DOT officials said.

In an email statement United officials wrote: We are committed to providing our customers the level of service they deserve and processing refunds in a timely manner and have since resolved these issues.”

 

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.

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Lori Aratani · September 3, 2013