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Travel Alert: Americans Now Eligible For Cash Refunds Amid New Flight Delay Rules

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Compensation for delayed and canceled flights just got better for American travelers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a set of new regulations on Wednesday which will make it easier for Americans to obtain refunds for delayed and canceled flights.

It's bad enough if your travel plans are impacted by a flight delay or cancelation, but trying to get a refund from the airline can be even more of a headache.

Woman in an airport

Luckily, these new rules will make things easier for travelers going forward.

Here's what travelers need to know about these new rules:

Cash Refunds For Delayed And Canceled Flights

Passengers flying on any U.S. airline are now entitled to cash refunds for “significantly changed” flights, which include delays and cancelations.

Flight over the Bahamas

Previously, it was up to the airline to define what consisted of a delay and what type of compensation you would receive in these scenarios.

Now, the definition is much more rigid.

Per the Department of Transportation, if you're flying on a domestic flight whose departure or arrival time is changed by more than 3 hours or an international flight whose departure or arrival time is changed by more than 6 hours, you're entitled to a cash refund.

Delay at Airport

The airline may still offer you alternative transportation or travel credits, but you can decline these and receive a cash refund instead.

“Significant changes” to flights that are eligible for a cash refund also include flights where the departure or arrival airport is changed, an increase in the number of flight connections, or instances where passengers are downgraded to a lower class of service than what they booked.

Woman Waiting on Delayed Flight

Refunds For Baggage Fees

In addition to providing cash refunds for delayed and canceled flights, U.S. airlines must also provide compensation for baggage fees on delayed or lost luggage according to the new rules.

Passengers will be entitled to a refund on baggage fees if their luggage is not delivered within 12 hours of a domestic flight or within 15-30 hours of an international flight, depending on the length of the flight.

In order to claim compensation for baggage fees, passengers must file a mishandled baggage report at the airport.

Frustrated Traveler

Refunds For Extras Not Provided

Another way this new regulation will help travelers is by forcing airlines to provide cash compensation for extras that were booked but not provided.

For example, if you pay extra for in-flight WiFi, a specific seat selection, or in-flight entertainment, and it is not available, you're entitled to a full refund on that purchase.

Previously, airlines were able to offer alternative compensation (such as a travel credit or airline miles) when extra services like this were not available.

Young Male Traveler Connecting To A WiFi Network While Flying

Receiving Your Cash Refund

A final piece to these new regulations is the accessibility of the refund.

One of the most frustrating things before was the difficulty of actually claiming any type of compensation from an airline.

You had to navigate complicated processes including searching the airline website for information, filling out paperwork, waiting on hold on the phone for hours, and waiting for compensation requests to be approved.

Frustrated Customer

Now, with the new regulations, airlines must provide refunds that are:

  • Automatic (no jumping through hoops or going through long, drawn-out processes)
  • Prompt (within 7 days for credit card purchases and within 20 days for other purchase methods)
  • Cash or original form of payment (travel credits or vouchers won't cut it)
  • Full amount (passengers must receive a full refund, including taxes and fees)

This makes getting a refund easy and hassle-free for travelers whose plans have already been interrupted by a flight delay, cancelation, or other issue.

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This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Saturday 27th of April 2024

So, as in decades past, The Process for receiving applicable refunds is still to make the initial claim at the airport, and/or with subsequent follow-up online? If the latter too, are the carriers websites now "streamlined" to facilitate FAST and EZ issue conclusion... normally by providing a claim reference # that was issued at the time of the initial in-airport issue reporting? ALA: much like the placing a tracking # into a delivery status "search cell" on company websites like DHL or FedEx? TIA.

Derek Brown

Thursday 25th of April 2024

How about foreign airlines that leave from the USA? do the same rules apply to them.?

Michael Z, NYC

Thursday 25th of April 2024

The airlines - all of them - have not been customer friendly to their passengers for many years. So,this is great news for all passengers who have struggled with them. I think besides the airlines being greedy with their 'nickel and diming add on fees because folks are traveling more by air since COVID-19 struck in 2020, the airlines haven't lived up to their past reputation to provide professional and quality service. Remember the United Airlines slogan "Fly The Friendly Skies of United?"

Thanks for the info, Dale.