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Navigating the impact of US airline refund regulations with voice AI

May 10, 2024


Since COVID, long delays and canceled flights have continued to disrupt airports across the United States.

The promise of a refund or compensation for disrupted travel usually sits at the end of a notoriously long customer service queue. Customers value their time, and long and confusing refund processes usually cause them to abandon trying to resolve their issues entirely.

But new refund rules are set to shake up the US airline industry.

A new regulation introduced by the US Department of Transportation is set to mandate airlines to offer automatic refunds to travelers for flight delays, downgrades, airport changes, increased connections, and inconvenient transfers.

The challenges in implementing new refund regulations

In an industry with high volumes of customers, busy phone lines, and underresourced contact centers, customer service often falls short of customer expectations.

Although the regulation is supposed to reduce the effort required from customers to claim their refunds, the changes will bring questions from customers, and airline contact centers need to be prepared to answer.

Adapting to the new regulations will require significant adjustments to operational processes. Airlines must update their systems and procedures to facilitate automatic refunds on time. This could lead to initial implementation challenges and further disruptions in service.

Processing timely and accurate refunds will further strain resources in an industry already facing significant cost pressures due to narrow profit margins.

While these new policies might seem like good news for travelers, they also raise the bar for what customers expect from airlines. Meeting these expectations consistently across all parts of the travel experience might be tough for airlines – especially with volatile call volumes – leading to unhappy passengers.

Resolving regulation challenges with voice AI

As airlines gear up to comply with new regulations, they can streamline the process and enhance customer satisfaction by implementing voice AI solutions.

AI voice assistants can respond instantly to customer inquiries regarding refund eligibility, status, and processing times. As customer queries increase in response to the changes, voice assistants offer a scalable solution to address a massive influx of calls quickly and effectively, decreasing the chances of customers abandoning their requests.

As airlines adapt to new processes and understand how their resources are best used to support automated refunds, deploying a voice assistant frees up experienced staff to handle complex queries while the voice assistant manages routine queries.


Introducing the new refund regulation will be a significant shift for the airline industry. While the change should alleviate the burden on customers, its implementation presents challenges for airlines in effectively managing customer service resources.

As airlines prepare to meet the new regulations, AI voice assistants offer an effective solution to handle increased customer inquiries efficiently, high call volumes, and support contact center staff.

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