| Canceled flight? You deserve a refund from the airline. |
| Airlines have spent the past month doing everything they can to avoid giving out refunds for canceled flights. Their favorite alternative: offering travel credit instead. |
It’s not right, it’s not legal, and you can’t pay for groceries with a Delta gift card. But they’re hoping you don’t know any better.
| ⚖️ Know your rights |
| If an airline cancels your flight, you’re eligible for a cash refund. Period. That’s not me talking, that’s federal law. |
| 🗓 Schedule changes count |
| If an airline significantly changes your flight itinerary, you’re also eligible for a refund. |
Annoyingly, the law doesn’t define exactly what a “significant schedule change” is. Though it varies by airline, in general these would be considered significant:
• 2+ hour change to your arrival or departure time
• Nonstop flight changed to a connecting flight
| 💵 No excuses |
| If an airline cancels/changes your flight, you’re eligible for a refund, even if: |
• They only canceled/changed one flight in your itinerary
• You had a basic economy ticket
• It’s on a foreign airline. As long as a flight takes off or lands at a US airport, the airline must follow US law
• The airline could really use the cash. That doesn’t give them the right to keep your money
| ✈️ What about third-party bookings? |
| If you booked through a major online travel agency (think Expedia or Priceline), the good news is they’re generally following the airlines’ refund policies. If your flight is canceled, you’re owed a refund, even if you booked through a third party. |
| 💪 Be proactive |
| Few airlines are proactively telling passengers about their right to a refund because they’d prefer you accept a voucher instead. If they’re stonewalling, these are the three things you can do: |
• Hang up, call again. Airlines have thousands of call center agents and each has discretion to grant a refund. Countless times I’ve been told no on the first two calls, only to be told yes on the third call.
• File a complaint. The Department of Transportation will forward your complaint to the airline and threaten “enforcement action” if they don’t act soon. Here’s the form.
• Credit Card Dispute. Banks have protections for customers in case they pay for something that they don’t ultimately receive (like, say, a flight that got canceled).
| ✋ Wait to cancel |
| If you voluntarily cancel, you’re only entitled to a voucher. Even if you’ve decided not to take a future trip, hold off as long as possible in the hopes the airline cancels your flight. |