Canceled flight? You deserve a refund. Travel credit is not always the resolution you’re looking for, but it’s the one airlines love to offer. If you’ve been offered a voucher for future flights, you do not have to settle. Here’s a look at the federal law and what to do if you find your trip has been canceled for you:
First, let’s take a look at the federal law pertaining to Air Carrier Refund Requirements:
The line we’re most focused on says that “U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change..”
If your flight is canceled for you, by the airline, you are eligible for a cash refund, period. Likewise, if your airline makes a “significant schedule change” to your flight. Although, the qualifications for a “significant” change vary some from airline to airline, so it’s best to confirm with them. In general, a 2+ hour change to your arrival or departure time, as well as breaking up a nonstop flight count as significant.
“But, I booked with Expedia! Am I still eligible?”
Yes! If you booked through one of the major third-party booking agencies, they generally follow the airlines’ refund policies.
Here’s how to get that refund:
Not many airlines are coming clean to folks about their refund policies – it works out better for them if you accept that voucher. So be proactive!
- Call the airline call center. Request that a refund be granted. If you’re met with opposition, no problem. Hang up and call again. There are hundreds of call center reps to inquire with and each has the jurisdiction to offer and grant a refund.
- If you’ve tried and tried but have been told ‘no,’ you may file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. They will receive your complaint and may issue an enforcement action if the airline has not complied. Find the complaint form here!
- File a dispute with your credit card. Banks and Credit Unions have protections set up for members who paid for something they ultimately did not receive.
- Do not cancel a flight prematurely. This one is the most nerve-wracking if you’re sitting on tickets but don’t feel comfortable traveling yet. But, if you voluntarily cancel, you are only eligible for a flight voucher. Even if you’ve decided not to travel, hold off as long as possible in the hopes the airline cancels your flight. Then, approach a refund with the options you’ve got listed above.