United Airlines Sued Over Refusing to Offer Refunds Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

United Airlines is reportedly facing a class-action lawsuit from at least one customer who did not get a refund for a flight canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company offered travel vouchers in place of a cash refund, according to a report by TMZ, and a customer named Jacob Rudolph found this unacceptable. Rudolph filed a class-action lawsuit against United Airlines on Monday.

According to legal documents filed by Rudolph on Monday, he had purchased three tickets for a United Airlines flight this month which was then canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tickets cost over $1,500 in total, but United did not refund him that price. Instead, he claims the company offered him travel vouchers. Rudolph pointed out that this was not helpful during a time of economic upheaval, when he and other Americans need cash for food, housing and basic necessities.

Rudolph reportedly requested a refund from United Airlines but was outright denied. He claims that the airline told him he does not qualify for a refund but offered to rebook his flight for a later date. Even the travel credit they offered expired after less than a year. Rudolph called this unfair and deceptive for customers.

Rudolph's filing also pointed out that United Airlines is the beneficiary of the U.S. government's coronavirus relief package. The company will reportedly receive a bail-out of about $58 billion, which Rudolph pointed out is made up of taxpayer money. He felt that this relief should allow United to issue refunds, not vouchers to customers whose flights were canceled due to this global emergency.

Rudolph is seeking damages for United's attempt to deny him a refund. He is also asking that the company be made to refund him and other customers in similar situations. Reporters from TMZ reached out to United for a comment, but have gotten no response yet.

The bail-out of United is a part of a $2 trillion relief package approved by the federal government due to the coronavirus pandemic. It includes money to keep other businesses and sectors of the economy afloat, with unemployment at a record high and few people spending money right now.

The package also includes some relief payments individual Americans and families. The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin announced on Thursday that these relief payments will be distributed starting in mid-April, using the direct deposit information Americans included in their 2018 and 2019 tax filings. For those that did not include direct deposit information in their taxes, a paper check will be sent, but it may take weeks or even months longer than direct payments.

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For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.