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Coronavirus travel bans, restrictions creating turbulance for airlines

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MILWAUKEE -- As new travel bans and restrictions are being put in place nearly daily, that is creating stress for passengers who are wanting to cancel flights.

Michael Sherwood came to the Milwaukee airport to cancel a flight to Las Vegas -- in person.

"Everything's closing in Las Vegas, restaurants, casinos," Sherwood said. He says he has tried everything.

"I have a Frontier Airlines credit card, it's going to be shredded at the end of this conversation," Sherwood said.

Passengers across the country are overwhelming airline call centers and websites with requests to cancel flights. But will all passengers qualify for refunds?

"The answer depends on your plane or the travel insurance provider," said Nick Jarmusz, a AAA spokesman working from home.

American and Delta are asking passengers to wait until 72 hours before their flight to cancel. Frontier is asking them to wait until 24 hours out.

At the same time, airlines are scaling back flights in response to government restrictions and to avoid flying empty planes.

"Some are simply reducing their schedules to be able to consolidate flights, some of them are changing routes," Jarmusz said.

On Delta's website, I don't qualify for a refund of my flight to Seattle, but I do get equal credit to my tickets' value toward a future flight and no change fee.

Not everyone on social media is as satisfied, however.

In a statement to Contact 6, Frontier Airlines said:

Our flexible travel policy to accommodate customers who want to make changes has led to an overwhelming amount of call volume. This is true for the entire airline industry. We are doing everything possible to assist our customers as quickly as we can and have enlisted a number of headquarters employees to put aside part of their normal job duties to help. For customers who want to cancel and retain the value of their ticket for 90 days for travel through November 2020, we now have an online form available so they don’t have to call us. We are also exploring other solutions. We deeply apologize for the frustration our customers are experiencing as we all navigate this time of extraordinary challenge together.

Several airlines are now offering more detailed information on their websites.

Because of all these cancelations, ticket prices have dropped. The cost of my canceled tickets to Seattle would cost me 250 dollars less if I booked the same flights today.

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