Here’s How to Get a Refund for Your Canceled Holiday Flights

by Samantha Whidden

Following thousands upon thousands of flights being canceled just the week alone, here is how travelers may actually get refunds for their recently canceled trips.  

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), passengers may receive a refund of the ticket price and/or associated fees in various circumstances. For instance, if an airline cancels a flight, regardless of any reason, a passenger is to receive a refund. A passenger is also able to have a refund if the airline has made a significant schedule change. Or there are significant delays to a flight. This also includes if the passenger decides to not travel. 

Meanwhile, passengers are also able to receive a refund if they receive a lower class of service involuntarily. For instance, if the passenger purchases a first-class ticket, but receives a downgrade to economy class due to an aircraft swap. The passenger is now able to get the difference in fares. 

In regards to optional service fees, a passenger may receive a refund of fees that are for optional services. This includes baggage fees, seat upgrades, and in-flight WiFi. This is for passengers who are unable to use the option service due to flight cancellation, delay, schedule change. This is also for a situation where the passenger involuntarily denied boarding. 

DOT states that in situations where passengers pay for an optional service and that amenities either do not work or are not available on the flight, they may need to notify the airline of the problem to receive the refunds.  

For baggage fees, passengers may receive refunds if baggage is officially lost by the airline. However, the airlines may have different policies to determine what constitutes a lost bag.

Flight Passengers Will Not Receive For Refunds For the Following Circumstances

So, while it seems that in the majority of circumstances, passengers are able to get refunds for cancelations or delayed travel plans, there are a few exceptions. Passengers may not receive a refund on non-fundable tickets. The only way for passengers to receive refunds is if the airline makes a promise to provide a refund. 

Another reason that a passenger will receive a refund – personal issues. Passengers who purchase nonrefundable tickets, but are unable to travel for a personal reason, will not receive a refund. This includes being sick or late to the airport. A passenger cannot get a refund on flights if due to a bad experience either. 

One other non-refundable example would be incidental expenses. A passenger who incurs incidental experiences (rental car, hotel, meals) due to a significantly delayed or canceled flight will not receive a refund for the expenses. 

DOT adds that while airlines do not have to offer a refund for non-refundable tickets, they are free to do so. Or they may issue a credit or travel voucher for future use.