Representatives Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Kathy Hochul (NY-26) are calling on the CEO of Direct Air to immediately reimburse consumers for terminated flights. After the abrupt cancellation of flights out of Niagara Falls, NY on March 12th, today Direct Air announced it was suspending all flights until May 15, leaving passengers who purchased tickets without reasonable recourse.

“The cancellation of these flights is already a nightmare for Western New York and Southern Ontario residents, many of whom have been planning these family trips or vacations for months,” Higgins said. “Consumers of Direct Air deserve no less than a direct refund, eliminating further hassle and freeing up funds to allow passengers to make alternate travel plans if possible.”

“Direct Air’s abrupt decision to cancel flights from the Niagara Falls International Airport places an unfair burden on Western New York families, many of which already made plans to visit their families over Easter,” said Congresswoman Hochul. “I call on the Direct Air to do what is right and not only issue full refunds, but also reimburse these travelers for any additional travel costs.”

Higgins and Hochul have been tireless advocates for airline passengers, pushing through necessary flight safety reforms following the tragic crash of Flight 3407 in 2009. Below is a copy of their letter to Direct Air, a copy of which is also being provided to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):

March 13, 2012

Jeff Conry
Chief Executive Officer
Direct Air
1600 Oak Street, Suite B
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

Dear Mr. Conry:

We write to you on behalf of Western New Yorkers who purchased tickets on Direct Air service out of Niagara Falls International Airport. Direct Air operates several flights per week out of Niagara Falls airport to Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, FL; Myrtle Beach, SC; Orlando West/Lakeland, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL. As you are aware, Direct Air has suspended flight operations until May 15, 2012.

Because of the abrupt nature of this service disruption, Western New York airline passengers – including those who had already boarded their flights on the evening of March 12 – now find themselves not only out of their money, but also in need of alternate travel arrangements.

In a statement posted on the Direct Air website on Tuesday, March 13, customers are advised that they have no recourse but to contact their credit card companies and request a refund for their cancelled flights. We find this solution to be unacceptable.

Customers who have already been inconvenienced by Direct Air’s suspended service should not be asked to go through the additional inconvenience and lengthy appeals process to receive a credit card reimbursement. We ask instead that Direct Air arrange for all passengers to receive a refund in a timely manner, and to compensate the passengers for additional costs incurred in making last minute alternate arrangements. Additionally, we ask you to re-examine this policy in the event of future service disruptions or flight cancellations.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Brian Higgins
Kathy Hochul
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

CC: Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration