These are cloudy days at Mendota Heights-based Sun Country Airlines. In continuing negotiations between the airline and its pilots, pay raises remain an issue. Pilots have voted to strike, if necessary; the airline has threatened to downsize or even shut down.

Amid the contract talks, some fliers are wondering whether to book tickets with the airline.

Consumer protections for ticket-holders may ease concern. When an airline cancels flights, as is possible during a strike, the Department of Transportation requires the airline to offer refunds, even on nonrefundable tickets. Ticket-holders also can also rely on the Fair Credit Billing Act for tickets purchased using a credit card (but not a debit card). The act ensures reimbursement for goods and services not produced, including a flight not flown.

With those safeguards in place, here’s my advice: Book through Sun Country in the short term if the deals can’t be beat, but use a credit card. Check with the airline from time to time to make sure nothing about your flight has changed. And know which other airlines fly to the destination so that if the unlikely occurs and Sun Country stops flying, you will be poised to secure a seat on another flight.

The company intends to continue operations unless pilot action, such as a strike, makes that impossible, said Larry Chestler, executive vice president of business development at Sun Country. “When we publish a schedule for our service, it is a commitment that the company stands behind. The only thing that would disrupt that would be actions taken by the pilots’ union,” he said.

While no one can know what is going to happen — details of the negotiations are kept out of the public eye — I remain hopeful that Sun Country will keep flying.


Contact travel editor Kerri Westenberg at; follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.