There is a sort of a war going on since the COVID-19 pandemic put the world in shackles. It's waged between passengers and airlines, fighting over refunds on place tickets. And truth be told, passengers are often having a hard time winning this battle. So, if you're wondering if you can get a refund on plane tickets for canceled flights, know that by law – you certainly have. However, the grey area is vast, and airlines are excellently using that fact.
Here's a hard-to-swallow pill; travelers worldwide struggle to get their money back from travels they never took. But, if you're persistent and learn a few golden tricks up your sleeve, you may be able to get a refund on plane tickets instead of a mere voucher. We at Travils believe that everyone should have the chance to see the world for less. So, logically, if it's not your direct fault that you can't make the trip, we want to help you get your hard-earned money back. So, to help you fight for your rights, I will dispel some of the myths regarding getting a refund on plane tickets.
When Do You Have the Right to Get a Refund on Plane Tickets
So, here is the deal. If you choose to cancel your flight, the best thing you can hope for is a voucher. However, if the airline does so or makes a drastic change in the flight itinerary, you have a full right to get a refund. And there is no question about it.
Since there are so many airlines nowadays canceling or dramatically changing travel plans, you are never quite sure you'll be getting on that flight. Since refundable tickets cost way more money than non-refundable, it's wise to wait as long as you can to cancel. This will undoubtedly increase the chance of getting your money back.
Since the pandemic started, The Department of Transportation received a staggering 124.918 consumer complaints, most of them (84 percent) about refunds. Moreover, there were also several class-action lawsuits during the last 18 months against major US airlines because they simply failed to issue refunds to their respective customers.
The Law Is on Your Side
Therefore, The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a mandate on April 3, stating that U.S. carriers must give people refunds for flights canceled by the airline or have had "significant delays or schedule changes." Not vouchers, but actual refunds. Be that as it may, The Department did not specify how long the delays have to be, stating that potential refunds depend on factors such as length of the delay, flight, and other "particular circumstances." You can check the details of the DOT mandate here.
Nevertheless, although DOT issued a second enforcement notice in May, stating customers should be getting "prompt" refunds, many travelers never got them or were kept waiting for the Godot. That's really shameful since the DOT rule is simple. You should receive a refund within seven business days if you paid your trip via credit card or within 20 days if you paid by cash or check.
How to Get a Plane Ticket if Your Airline Blatantly Ignores the Law?
Still, thousands of travelers complained they've only been offered vouchers or flight credits. A portion of them was promised refunds, bet that money never appeared on their accounts. So, the battle began.
Angry clients took to social networks to voice their concerns, cutting the time waiting for an agent to respond to their call. In essence, many obstacles stand in front of travelers and their refunds, most of them purely bureaucratic. Meaning made especially to make it hard for you to get your hand on your cash.
In short, these procedures vary considering the carriers, destinations, and booking types. If you cancel your flight, especially if the U.S. warns you not to travel to your destination, you should be satisfied with a voucher. However, if your airline cancels the trip or changes it significantly, you're undoubtedly entitled to get a refund.
Since the battle with airlines can get fierce, we at Travils broke down what to do to get you your plane ticket refund. After all, our mission is to share the joy of traveling with all humans on earth. But, since the pandemic made it complicated, now our mission is also to help you keep your money and save it for when you're carefree to travel again. Hopefully, very soon.
So, let's dive into how the whole plane ticket refund business is working and what you need to know to make the best of it.
The Law Regarding Plane Tickets Refund Is Clear; Airlines Make It Complicated
When it comes to trips canceled by the airline, you are eligible for a full refund – no doubt about it. The Department of Transportation regulations clearly states: "If your flight is canceled and you choose to cancel your trip; as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation – even for non-refundable tickets. In addition, you are also entitled to a refund for any bag fee that you paid and any extras you may have purchased, such as a seat assignment."
Seems straightforward, right? But as we all know all too well, airlines don't always like to play nice and fair, so many of them blatantly refuse to give those refunds. Hence, the two separate enforcement warnings I've talked about earlier.
Most of the time, the airline will try and put you on an alternate flight. Still, in that case, you also have the right to request a refund, as well as you have if the flight schedule changes significantly. That said, airlines usually have some leeway to decide in those cases. So, be ready to put up a fight if necessary. Bear with me, and I'll show you how.
Watch Out for Their Game Tricks
Theoretically, you should be able to get your money fast and simple. But, since airlines are figuring out new ways to scam you out of your refund, you have only one ally on your side – knowledge. Meaning you must know your rights.
First and foremost, instead of a refund, airlines will often mention a voucher, counting on poor uninformed passengers to take the bait. So, whatever you do, do not accept it right away!
Moreover, some of them will make it reasonably complicated for people to even get to the process of trying for a refund. In this case, they are also hoping you will just give up. Whatever you do, do not give up!
How Airlines Deceive Travelers on Plane Ticket Refunds
Travelers worldwide have the same complaint. Airlines cancel or change the flight, and mention only a voucher or a credit to compensate for your troubles. In fact, they are often totally silent about available refunds, although they are legally obliged to offer that option. Moreover, many of them will create extra steps to take to get your money back, often making it, so they eventually make even more money on you.
And, of course, this is very wrong. And I repeat, by law, both U.S. and foreign airlines must give a full cash refund, including taxes and fees, to travelers affected.
Moreover, The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a warning to airlines, stating there are no excuses to not give people refunds due to cancellations. No vouchers, cash only, says that DOT right here.
So, even if your airline changes the flight considerably and offers you an alternative, you are still eligible to not accept it and get a plane ticket refund. Simple as that.
But, of course, it's still not that simple, given that the same law has made it easier for carriers to interpret what "significant delay" means precisely.
So, we at Travils made a guide to help win you your plane ticket refund, even if you purchased a non-refundable airline ticket.
How to Get a Refund or Change a Non-refundable Ticket
The truth is, you're totally safe only if you book a refundable ticket. But, be that as it may, those tickets can cost a fortune, so when traveling for leisure, most people are risking it with non-refundable fares.
But, you can still get a refund on a non-refundable ticket. Below are the tactics to do it.
Free Cancellation Within 24 Hours of Booking
Most significant airlines follow the directions of The Department of Transportation. The DOT says you have the right to a full cash refund on non-refundable tickets, as long as you claim it within the 24 hours of booking and as long as your flight is at least seven days away. This way, you pay no cancellation fee. Most carriers will ask you to pay first and refund it later if you change your plans. However, this rule only applies if you bought your ticket directly from the airline, not if you booked it via online travel agencies or third parties.
That said, some of the agencies have fairly generous refund policies. For example, third-party sites will offer you free cancellation until the end of the day the following business day after purchasing, no matter how many days in advance you bought your tickets. During these uncertain times, these risk-free policies are golden opportunities to travel with peace of mind.
Getting a Plane Ticket Refund Due to Delays, Cancellations, and Schedule Changes
When it comes to significant changes in your travel contract, there are various types of "involuntary refunds" you may ask for. In essence, if your airline changes your flight for any reason, you can ask for a full refund. But, of course, that also goes if you purchase a non-refundable ticket.
That means that you have the right to an entire plane ticket refund, even if you refuse a new flight they offer you. So, suppose you have a non-refundable ticket for a flight you cannot take. If the DOT 24-hour rule is not applicable, you may hope for your flight to be canceled or significantly delayed. However, you have to check in to be eligible for a full refund due to a last-minute cancellation or delay. Often it's enough to just do online check-in to get your cashback.
Similarly, if your carrier suddenly changes departure or arrival time, layover length, or type of flight, it's a plane ticket refund o'clock. The time to pick up the phone, call them, and ask for your refund. All you have to say is that the new schedule does not work for you anymore, and that should do it.
In any event, we at Airport have one critical but straightforward rule to share with you. If you really don't want that voucher, they're offering, do not settle for one. But, if you did make that rookie mistake many humans do daily, here's the good news. You may still be able to get your money back.
How Can You Get a Plane Ticket Refund if You've Already Accepted a Voucher?
Truth be told, this part of the battlefield is a gray area when it comes to plane tickets refunds.
Suppose your carrier canceled your flight and kind of forced a voucher on you. Yes, I know airlines have sly ways of doing that, and it usually works perfectly for them. But, nevertheless, the Department of Transportation has your back.
DOT stated that airlines must "in a timely manner contact the passengers provided with vouchers for flights that carrier canceled or significantly delayed and notify them they have the option of a refund."
So, you can sit back and wait for the morally correct airline to reach out and inform you of your rights or be proactive about it. After all, many of them cannot be trusted to actively want to give you your money back fair and square.
But, suppose you canceled your flight and later found out that the carrier canceled it also. Sorry to inform you, but you probably lost your chance at a refund. You can play the convincing game, but prepare to lose a considerable amount of time and energy.
Hence the warning I made starting this blog; it's wise to wait to cancel your flight as long as possible. In this day and age, chances are high you would need that refund.
Summary: Tips and Tricks to Get Your Plane Ticket Refund
1. Keep your eyes open and wait. Your flight is likely to change, and if that happens, you have the right to a full refund.
2. Some airlines will throw some obstacles your way; If you're unable to find a refund process option online, pick up the phone and call them. Moreover, use the power of their social networks.
3. If you booked via an agency: contact them and ask what your options are.
4. Don't refrain from using the DOT rules in your favor. Feel free to cite the two notices I mentioned above. You know what they say – you have the right to a plane ticket refund.
5. If your carrier is a tough nut to crack, do not let them off so quickly. Instead, call again and ask for the boss.
6. That didn't work? File a complaint with the DOT. You can do it here.
7. As a last resort: Try and start a credit card chargeback process with your bank.
The Bottom Line
You're probably aware by now; many airlines will do their best to scam you out of your plane ticket refund. After all, the planet is in crisis, and everyone will try and save as much money as possible.
Be that as it may, that does not mean you have to let them fly off with your cash that easily. Knowing your rights is the first step to ensure your refund. The second is letting them know you're aware they would be unwise to try their deceptive tricks on you since you know they are legally obliged to give you your money.
There is no excuse for airlines anymore to play these sly games. So stand your ground and don't give up. We at Travils are here to be your side-kick in this battle. Good luck!