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Flight Cancelled? Refund Polices Of Major U.S. Airlines

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With thousands of flights cancelled across various airlines on Memorial Day weekend, many travelers had their vacation plans ruined before they even got started. Unfortunately for travelers, it seems as though last weekend will serve as an unfortunate precursor for more flight problems this summer, with the industry still blighted by staff shortages, rising costs and even a lack of aircraft – not to mention other threats looming.

Thankfully, many airlines have refund policies in place to ensure that even if you can't get your vacation back, travelers can still get their money back. Here's a look at the refund policies of major airlines in the US. 

American Airlines

Travelers with American can cancel their bookings and get a full refund if they do so within 24 hours of purchase, providing their booking is at least two days before departure – regardless of whether the ticket is refundable or non-refundable.

Travelers with a refundable ticket can apply for a refund directly with the airline online. Those with non-refundable tickets may only get a refund if the airline makes a schedule change that results in a change of more than 4 hours – as may well be the case this summer.

Delta Air Lines

Delta also has a 24-hour risk-free cancellation period, allowing travelers to change their minds and cancel penalty-free within 24 hours of purchase.

Travelers can cancel a non-refundable ticket and receive their fare back as eCredit, but may be subject to a cancellation fee depending on the ticket type. If there is a flight cancellation or significant delay, those with non-refundable tickets will be rebooked on an alternative flight, or their ticket will be converted to eCredit for future Delta travel.

Travelers with a refundable ticket can easily apply for a refund online. Full refunds are awarded for those with flights that have been cancelled. 

Southwest Airlines 

Those flying Southwest benefit from the airline’s claims that it offers no flight cancellation or changing fees. Travelers that have booked to fly on Southwest's non-refundable ticket types such as Wanna Get Away and Wanna Get Away Plus can get their fare back as flight credit, whilst the airline’s Anytime and Business Select fares are refundable back to the customer's source of payment. All ticket types can be changed into credit as long as the traveler cancels their flight within 10 minutes of departure. 

United Airlines

United allows passengers to cancel or change bookings made within 24 hours, providing the booking was made a week or more before departure. According to their website, most fares are non-refundable, and those that can be refunded may be subject to a cancellation fee.

Depending on the ticket type, some tickets can have their value applied to other flights, but may be subject to extra charges. Non-refundable tickets may be eligible for travel credit or a full refund in the event of a significant delay, otherwise travelers can postpone their trips without incurring penalties. 

Alaska Airlines 

All Alaska ticket types – including Saver fares – can be refunded in full within 24 hours of purchase. Travelers can also receive a refund or credit if their booking meets the following criteria:

  • Issued at, an Alaska call centre or an Alaska ticket counter 
  • Not a Saver fare 
  • Doesn't contain a government fare.
  • Not be more than one year from date of original purchase, or for partially used tickets, not be more than one year from original outbound travel date.
  • Not a group or package booking.
  • Doesn't contain an unaccompanied minor booked on a carrier other than Alaska Airlines.
  • Charged in US dollars.

JetBlue Airways 

Providing the trip was booked seven or more days in advance, JetBlue flights can be cancelled within 24 hours without a fee. Non-refundable fares can be cancelled for a fee, with the remaining balance offered in credit. With JetBlue refundable fares, cancellations are permitted at any time prior to the scheduled departure for a full refund to the original form of payment. With flights that are cancelled, travelers can either board the next flight without charge, receive travel credit or a full refund to the original form of payment. 

What The Department of Transport Says

According to the DOT, a consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline cancelled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the consumer chooses not to travel. In addition, a consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline makes a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the consumer chooses not to travel. That means that even if the worst happens this summer, travelers shouldn't be significantly out of pocket. 

Contemplative Female Traveler At The Airport

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