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Senator Urges Airlines, Travel Firms to Help Families Who Lose February Break

Lawmaker is asking companies to reimburse or waive penalty charges.

While the Sayville and Bayport-Blue Point school districts have yet to decide to take back some or all of the scheduled February vacation days to make up for the lost instructional time due to Hurricane Sandy, a local lawmaker is hoping to help families if vacation time is cancelled.

To give a break to families in districts that do decide to stay open that week, Sen. Chuck Schumer sent letters to airlines and cruise line companies Wednesday, urging them to set-up programs to reimburse or waive penalty charges for those families who have to cancel their trips because of their school calendar changed.

Schumer told The Daily News:

 "We literally got more than 100 calls from people who have been planning these vacations for a long time, and now because of Sandy, they have to work or send their kids to school ... It's like adding insult to injury. These are not wealthy people. They generally have nonrefundable reservations."

According to The News, Delta Airlines quickly responded to Schumer's request, and is letting customers with tickets purchased prior to Nov. 19 and departing from La Guardia, JFK, Newark, White Plains or Newburgh between Feb. 15 and Feb. 24 to reschedule without a change fee. They also can choose to get a Delta credit for the purchase amount, spokeswoman Leslie Scott explained, telling The News that "it's the right thing to do." 

JetBlue also announced this week that it would waive its change fee or offer travel credits for customers who purchased tickets to travel to or from New York Metropolitan Airports (JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Newburgh, White Plains) between Feb. 14 and Feb. 25, 2013. These customers can voluntarily rebook their flights (They will be responsible for the difference in airfare, if any) without incurring a change fee or they can cancel their trip and receive a travel bank credit by calling 800-JETBLUE (800-538-2583) by Dec. 31, 2012.  Original travel must have been booked on or before Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.

Other airlines, including American, reportedly were still reviewing Schumer's request.

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