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Airlines now have to give you cash instead of voucher for cancelled flight

Airlines now required to refund passengers for canceled flights
Posted at 9:35 AM, Apr 25, 2024

The Department of Transportation has announced a new rule that should make any travel mishaps on your next flight a little less stressful.

Airlines in the U.S. will now be required to automatically provide cash refunds to passengers when a flight is canceled or significantly changed. The rule also applies to checked bag fees if your luggage is delayed by more than 12 hours, or if an airline does not provide extra services that a passenger already purchased, like in-flight Wi-Fi.

“Passengers deserve to get their money back when an airline owes them — without headaches or haggling,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in press release. “Our new rule sets a new standard to require airlines to promptly provide cash refunds to their passengers.”

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Passenger looks at airport arrivals/ departures board

Under the rule, passengers are entitled to a refund for a canceled or significantly changed flight if they do not accept alternative transportation or travel credits offered. If the alternatives and credits are accepted, a refund is not required. A “significant change” is defined as changes to a flight including departure or arrival times that are more than three hours for domestic flights or six hours for international flights.

The rule also applies to departures or arrivals from a different airport, an increase in the number of connections, a passenger being downgraded to a lower class of service or specific issues that make a flight less accessible or accommodating to a person with a disability.

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Passengers will also be entitled to a refund of their checked bag fee if they file a mishandled baggage report and their luggage is not returned within 12 hours of their domestic flight’s arrival, or 15-30 hours of their international flight arriving at the gate.

Lastly, refunds will also be issued if an airline fails to provide extras that have been paid for, like Wi-Fi, seat selections and inflight entertainment.

interior of airplane

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Prior to the new rule, airlines were allowed to set their own standards for what kind of flight changes would require a refund. That means polices differed based on the airline, which could be confusing or difficult for passengers when it came time to get a refund.

Now, airlines must not only follow the new rules, but they also must issue refunds within seven business days for credit card purchases and 20 days for other methods of payment. The refunds will be based on the original method of payment and cannot be in the form of vouchers or credits.

You can read the full rules and find more information on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website.

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