Travel Experts on Holiday Flight Cancellations: ‘Full Blown Meltdown’

by Allison Hambrick

According to the experts, 2021 holiday flight cancellations have reached a new level of chaos, with an additional 700 flights canceled today.

“Good morning, Travel experts are not mincing any words,” said Kerry Sanders on The Today Show. “They are calling this a full blown meltdown. The day after Christmas, more than 1,500 domestic flights were canceled and now this morning we’re seeing 700 plus flights canceled plus another 600 that are delayed. Experts say ‘look if you’re traveling by air today, do yourself a favor, call the airline before you get to the airport. Then check again online. And once you get to the airport, if it looks like your flight is going to leave on time, then prepare yourself anyway for some bad news.”

Of course, these cancellations are in part due to concerns about the Omicron variant. The holidays saw a surge in Covid-19 cases, and a large part of that is due to Omicron being more highly transmissible. As a result, many are struggling to make it home. This is already the most stressful time of year to travel.

How to Get a Refund on a Cancelled Holiday Flight

The Department of Transportation (DOT) listed various circumstances in which a customer can get a refund. For example, refunds are available if the airline cancels a flight or if the airline has made a significant schedule change. Significant delays to a flight is another reason. Passengers can also receive these types of refunds even if they elect not to take the flight.

Additionally, passengers moved from first class to economy can receive a refund for the difference in price. This also applies to optional service fees. Because they cannot take advantage of these amenities, they may get reimbursed. However, the customer is responsible for reaching out to the airline. This kind of refund will not be given automatically.

There are, however, some circumstances in which a holiday flight cannot be refunded. 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. 

One other non-refundable example would be incidental expenses. Incidental expenses include rental car, hotel, and meals. Those received 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, they have freedom to do so. They may issue a credit or travel voucher for future use. 

As far as getting refunds, the best option is to call your airline. While many are refunding tickets, the only way to know for sure is by reaching out.