U.S. suspends 26 flights to China. What are your rights if your flight is canceled?
This isn’t the first time the U.S. government canceled flights because of a COVID-19 dispute with China. Here’s what airlines are legally required to provide customers if their flight is canceled
Twenty-six flights from the U.S. to China will be suspended in the coming months, after a dispute between the U.S. Department of Transportation and Beijing, according to The Associated Press. AP reports that the Department of Transportation complained Beijing treated airlines unfairly after they canceled flights by American carriers.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. In January, CNN reported that the Department of Transportation suspended 44 flights from Chinese airlines in a “spat over pandemic-related travel rules.”
Why is the U.S. disputing with China about flights?
The dispute over flight suspensions circles back to China’s “circuit-breaker” rule. According to CNN, China’s “circuit-breaker” rule means a flight is suspended for two weeks if five or more passengers test positive upon landing in China. The suspension increases if 10 or more test positive.
The Department of Transportation complained airlines face “undue culpability” when passengers test negative before boarding and then test positive once arriving in China, The Associated Press reported.
“We reserve the right to take additional action if Beijing imposes further circuit-breaker measures,” the Department of Transportation said in a statement to AP.
What are your rights if your flight is canceled?
According to the Department of Transportation, “A consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline canceled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the consumer chooses not to travel.” Airlines will rebook you most of the time on the next flight available, but legally they are not required to.
However, airlines are not required to provide lodging when flights are canceled or delayed. CNN reported that airlines are not required by law to provide a place to stay, which means it’s important to know the polices of the airline.
For example, Delta Air Lines provides passengers with a hotel voucher when a delay occurs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., but each airline’s policy will be different.