Refund After Flight Cancellation?

Am I Entitled to a Refund?

In the following situations, you are entitled to a refund of the ticket price and/or associated fees.

  • Cancelled Flight – A passenger is entitled to a refund if the airline cancelled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the passenger chooses not to travel.
  • Schedule Change/Significant Delay – A passenger is entitled to a refund if the airline made a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the passenger chooses not to travel.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

Update: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

The U.S. Department of Transportation (Department or DOT) is proposing to codify its longstanding interpretation that it is an unfair business practice for a U.S. air carrier, a foreign air carrier, or a ticket agent to refuse to provide requested refunds to consumers when a carrier has cancelled or made a significant change to a scheduled flight to, from, or within the United States, and consumers found the alternative transportation offered by the carrier or the ticket agent to be unacceptable.

You can read the public comments or submit your own comment until November 21, 2022 at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/08/22/2022-16853/airline-ticket-refunds-and-consumer-protections

Flight Board showing limited options at the San Diego airport on a Friday afternoon during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Flight Board showing limited options. Multiple screens to the right of this image were dark.

Many passengers who had initially been denied refunds have received the required refunds

One half of 1% of flights cancel

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines reported 473,936 scheduled domestic flights in April 2021; 2,561 (0.5%) of which were canceled. During the same month, the U.S. DOT received 3,462 complaints about airline service. Of those 3,462 complaints, 2,351 (67.9%) concerned refunds. See: Air Travel Consumer Report: April 2021 Numbers

The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection continues to communicate with airlines and travel companies that received a large number of refund complaints to ensure compliance with the refund requirements.  Many passengers who had initially been denied refunds have received refunds.  The Department will take enforcement action against non-compliant airlines and ticket agents. See: How to file a complaint

Delta provided a no-hassle refund

This author purchased a ticket on Delta during August 2022 for flights in November. Shortly thereafter, Delta cancelled one of the flights and automatically re-booked my itinerary, but via a less-convenient connection. I filled out a form at Delta’s website, requesting a refund due to the flight cancellation, and waited … patiently. Six weeks later, an email appeared saying that my refund had been processed. A couple of days after that, a credit was posted to the American Express Delta SkyMiles credit card account that I used to pay for my ticket. I heard horror stories about calling and sitting on hold or waiting forever to chat. But my experience with Delta was satisfying. Granted it took awhile, but there was no drama. I requested, and received, a refund after they cancelled my flight.