How to Get As Much Money As Possible From a Canceled Flight
After the Southwest Airlines fiasco that caused more than 3,000 flights to be canceled on Christmas Day, and an FAA computer glitch that caused more than 1,300 flights to be canceled (and 10,000 delayed in the US on Wednesday), the flight appears to have arrived on time. is becoming increasingly rare. It is clear that you want to be prepared to fight for what you are entitled to when the airline, for lack of a better term, completely deceives you. Here’s what you need to know about the fine print so you can always get the most money out of a canceled or delayed flight.
What is written in small print on most airlines
Lawyer Erika Kuhlberg has gained a huge following on TikTok with her videos outlining legal requirements for airlines you probably don’t know about. (Each video ends with the line ” Erika reads the fine print so I don’t have to! “) In this video , published in September 2022, Kuhlberg explains the updated terms of major airlines such as American, Delta and Southwest. Some of these updated terms include the fact that your flight being delayed overnight means you are legally entitled to free hotel accommodation and transportation to and from your hotel. And in this video response to Southwest’s Christmas flight cancellations, Kullberg teaches passengers the language directly from the Department of Transportation on flight delays and cancellations.
By far the most useful and up-to-date resource you are entitled to is the Department of Transportation (DOT) airline customer service dashboard . Follow this link for a list of major US airlines and the services they promised to provide in the event of a “controlled” flight cancellation or delay. Controlled are problems with maintenance or crew, cabin cleaning, baggage loading, refueling and other delays caused by the airline itself.
How much can you get for a flight delay?
As we said earlier this week , when it comes to delay reimbursement, the amount depends on the difference between the new arrival time and your original itinerary:
- 1 hour or less: no compensation
- 1 to 2 hours (1 to 4 hours international): Minimum 200% of original one-way fare or $775, whichever is less.
- 2 hours or more (4 hours or more worldwide): Minimum 400% of your original one-way fare or $1,550, whichever is less.
If you paid with frequent flyer miles, the refund is based on the lowest amount paid for the same ticket on your flight.
When are you eligible for a full refund?
Unfortunately, according to the DOT, there are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are simply delayed. However, if your flight is completely canceled and “as a result you decide to cancel your trip, you are entitled to a refund of the cost of the unused carriage – even for non-refundable tickets. You are also entitled to a refund of the baggage fee you paid and any extras you may have purchased, such as seating.”
Each airline has its own rules, but for the most part, here are the situations where you are eligible for a ticket refund (all taken from the Department of Transportation ):
- Canceled flight. If an airline cancels a flight, for whatever reason, and you decide not to fly, you are eligible for a refund.
- Rescheduling with significant delay. Unfortunately, there is no official definition of what constitutes a “significant delay”. Whether you are eligible for a refund depends on many factors, including the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your specific circumstances.
- Service class change. If you purchased a first class ticket and your class was downgraded to economy due to a change in aircraft, you will be charged the fare difference.
- Baggage fee. Whenever an airline declares your baggage lost, you are entitled to a refund of the baggage fees. Of course, airlines may have different rules for determining the moment of official loss of baggage. Most airlines report the bag as lost between five and fourteen days after the flight, but this can vary from one airline to another.
The airline must also refund fees for seat selection, baggage check-in and other additional services if you do not receive these services during your trip. Finally, if you have purchased fully refundable tickets, you are entitled to a full refund if you did not use the ticket, regardless of your circumstances.
Do not automatically accept this voucher
While some airlines may offer tickets or vouchers for those who unwittingly encounter this, you have the right to request a cash check instead. The likelihood that you will receive it depends on the circumstances related to the reason for the cancellation, as well as the policy of the airline. However, double checking with a customer service representative may earn you a cash reward. On a side note, if you need to contact a real person, here is our guide to navigating airline phone lines . As a last resort, you can take to social media to complain publicly in the hope that a representative will finally respond to you.
And finally, here is our guide to the rights of air passengers that everyone should know.