If you recently had a flight canceled, you might want to contact the airline; you’re probably entitled to a refund.
The U.S. Department of Transportation clarified its refund requirements for air carriers who canceled or significantly delayed flights due to the coronavirus outbreak. Airlines are required to give passengers a refund for these flights and cannot offer just a voucher. So if your vacation flight was canceled or significantly delayed, rest assured you can get your money back.
The clarification comes after DOT received a high number of complaints from passengers that were not refunded. Many airlines were offering vouchers for future flights instead of refunds, which is against the DOT policy. Airlines may offer a voucher but only if the passenger is made aware of the refund first. These refunds include not only the ticket price but also any optional fees for services the passenger isn’t able to use such as checked bag fees or upgrades to first class.
The policy applies to any flights coming to, within, or from the U.S., so if you were supposed to fly in from or to another country, you are still entitled to a refund. If your flight was between countries outside of the U.S., you’ll have to read up on that country’s Department of Transportation’s policy before demanding a refund.
“Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for canceled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged,” the DOT writes in its refund enforcement notice.
While DOT has not taken direct action against airlines, giving the carriers time to comply with the refund requirement, the department will enforce the policy if airlines do not issue refunds promptly. DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office will monitor airlines refund policies and practices and take action if needed.
If you recently had a flight canceled or significantly delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, you should contact the airline. You can also call DOT to report airline noncompliance by calling 202-366-4000.