First of all, let’s just all agree this sucks.
Having to cancel summer trips, reschedule adventures we’ve been dreaming about for months, maybe years….it totally sucking the wind out of our travel-loving sails.
BUT praise the Lord, we were able to get full cash refunds for ALL our flights….so we’re sharing here how we made it happen.
The Coronavirus has disrupted many things this spring, turning the travel industry completely on its head. The pandemic caused a historic shutdown of air travel in mid-March which just still feels unreal.
While US carriers cut down their flight routes up to 90% (wow, just insane), travelers are having to deal with canceled and delayed flights with endless changing schedules.
Some are fighting for refunds saying they have only been offered vouchers and fight credit, others are still waiting on refunds promised weeks ago. From long wait times (I STILL haven’t gotten through with Delta) to glitchy websites, there are plenty of obstacles to tackle when it comes to getting your money back.
So how do you navigate managing getting your money back during these unprecedented times? We outline a few tips on how to get your refund back in your pockets — and what exactly you are entitled to.
Wait Until the Last Minute
For any planners out there, it may seem counterintuitive to wait until the last minute to handle these changes but trust us here. It is one of the easiest things to try when it comes to getting your money back — don’t voluntarily cancel the flight on your own.
By waiting until the airline cancel themselves (our Norway flight wasn’t cancelled until 7 days prior to departure!), it requires them to give your money back instead of a travel voucher. Don’t make any changes or accept a travel voucher until the very LAST possible minute, because when you make a voluntary change, they have no obligation to refund you. I know all you Type-A’s are cringing, but this is definitely the way to go on this one.
You Are Entitled to a Refund
Point blank — if your flight is canceled or significantly changed (with American they told me the flights had to be changed a total of 61+ minutes or more) you are legally entitled to a refund.
Under the rules of the Department of Transportation, if your flight is canceled (no matter the reason) you are entitled to a full refund back to your original payment website. The DOT released a reinforcement on this issue on April 3 that this policy still applies during the pandemic. The DOT’s enforcement says that passengers should receive their refund within 7 business days if paid via credit card or within 20 days for cash and check.
Airline policies will differ from what they consider a significant schedule change. American Airlines just changed that time refund from 61 minutes to 4 hours given the mass changes happening from the pandemic, but this only applies to new ticket purchases. Delta allows refunds for trips that have been delayed by over 90 minutes and United requires a change of at least six hours.
With one of our Norway flights, it got changed from a direct flight to two connecting flights….and that also qualified us for a full refund (still just completely torn up we weren’t escapading through Europe this summer…have you seen our epic one month trip to Italy, babes in tow and all??)
If all else fails… try again
If the first representative you talk to says no, hang and try again…I had to call Scandinavian Airlines upwards of 5 times to finally get our $1200 refund (incredibly annoying YES…worth every penny, YES). With all of these rules in limbo, you might luck out and get an agent that is willing to assist you this time. You can also ask to speak to supervisors who probably have more authority to make it happen.
If you are still fighting an airline for a refund on a canceled flight, visit the Department of Transportation’s website to directly file a claim with them.
In contrast, some airlines are automatically issuing travel voucher credits when a flight is cancelled. Normally I’d be on board, but with travel being such a big question mark right now (someday we WILL get back to Europe), I don’t know about you, but I want my money back. This is exactly what Spirit tried to pull on us for our NY flight this summer, but thankfully I called, I pushed, I filed a claim for a refund online, and eventually got our flight fully reimbursed (PTL!).
Have you had luck with your airline refunds? Will you be taking advantage of flight deals and rebooking in hopes to travel again? If you are still dreaming of some sort of adventure for this summer, but not sure what it might look like…take a look at our post HERE!