Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to each of the 10 major domestic airlines on Monday arguing that many consumers, who have had to cancel flights over the past year, are running out of time to use their temporary flight credits and are ultimately losing out on their "hard-earned dollars."
Airlines for America, an industry trade organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
"We must first reiterate our belief that your airline should offer a cash refund for all tickets on flights canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, whether canceled by the airline or traveler," the letter reads.
During the economic downturn, travel plans were upended by health concerns, government-mandated bans on travel, and closed borders. As a result, Americans were given temporary flight credits rather than cash refunds – funds that consumers need for essentials such as food, housing and prescriptions – especially as the health crisis persists, according to Markey and Blumenthal.
Although the lawmakers are pushing for cash refunds, they stressed that, "at minimum," airlines should "not subject pandemic-related flight credits to an expiration date."
"It is unconscionable that airlines are largely refusing to return customers’ money even as the industry sits on more than $10 billion in unused travel credits," the letter continues.
Additionally, the senators argued that the policies governing flight credit expiration are both complex and differ from each airline, creating "significant confusion for consumers."
In some cases, consumers discovered their credits have or will expire before they plan to travel again, according to the senators.
"We fear that countless consumers will be unable to redeem their flight credits or will redeem them at a loss," the letter reads.
They also say that without removing expiration dates, travelers will be more inclined to fly "before they feel safe boarding a plane, lest they lose tickets that they have already purchased with hard-earned dollars."
The letter was sent to Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.