National Airlines Shuts Down; Virgin, LatinPass Looking at Options for Customers Who Booked Award Travel

National Airlines Shuts Down; Virgin, LatinPass Looking at Options for Customers Who Booked Award Travel

Wide-eyed tourists, frequent travelers and slot-machine junkies were stranded Nov. 6 after bankrupt National Airlines grounded its fleet of 18 planes and declared it had stopped flying for good.

National said it would not be issuing refunds on purchased tickets. Passengers left holding tickets that were purchased with a credit card will need to apply to those creditors for a refund. Several airlines, including Frontier, US Airways, America West and Alaska Airlines have agreed to honor the tickets on a standby basis should seats become available. By law, the airlines are allowed to charge a processing fee.

Until National’s demise, both Virgin Atlantic flying club members and LatinPass members could book award travel on the airline. Virgin representatives said they were contacting flying club members who had planned to use their miles for award travel on National.

“We are contacting the members and we will be refunding the miles or try and find alternative partner to fly them instead,” said Wendy Buck, a public relations manager with Virgin. Buck said the British airline would also continue to give mileage credit for flights taken on National over the past six months.

A spokesman for LatinPass lamented the demise of the airline: “It’s a tragic thing. It’s really unfortunate.” While no specific plans have yet been made to compensate members who may have booked award travel on National, LatinPass insists, “We’ll do what we can.”

Just one year into its operation, National filed for bankruptcy protection. In a statement posted on its Web site, National president and CEO Michael Conway said the company could not complete a reorganization plan mandated by its senior management, board of directors and some key creditors. The carrier was dealt a blow earlier this year when its application for a federal loan guarantee of $50 million was turned down by the Air Transportation Stabilization Board.

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