Ticket Cancellation and Refund
Air Travel

Everything You Need to Know About Ticket Cancellation and Refund

August 6, 2018 Nency Willims 0Comment

Things don’t always go according to plan when the scheduled plan goes for a toss and problem may pop in in the last leg ticket cancellation or changes may put travelers in a fix. Changing plans usually means paying fees and if you purchase a refundable airfare to avoid cancellation, it could mean paying hundreds to thousands of dollars more to incur this facility.

Ticket cancellations are not always easy. Every airline has its own set of norms and rules as to when you can and cannot avoid cancellation charges or are entitled to a refund.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to canceling flights reservation.

The 24 hours cancellation rule regarding the cancellation of nonrefundable tickets

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, you can cancel a non-refundable ticket and receive a full refund however it is based on certain conditions in as per the rules set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Passengers are only entitled to a refund when they have booked the ticket seven days ahead of their flight and the cancellation is done within 24 hours of booking.

You can also change your flight without penalty but may be subject to a fare adjustment fee.

Outside of the 24-hour rule

The cost of cancellation varies depending on the airline’s rulebook. If you cancel a ticket after 24-hours, you may end up paying a fee of $125 or more, depending on the airline and whether the ticket is for domestic travel or up to $450  if it pertains to an international flight.

You can cancel or change the reservation, however, in the case of a change; the difference in fare may apply however there won’t be any penalties that would be applied.

The 24-hour cancel or change rule may only apply when passengers book fares directly with an airline vis their website or over the phone, however, if they have booked through travel agency then care should be taken to check the terms and conditions with the travel booking company as their case may differ, it’s perfect to check with them as changes and refund requests must are handled by through that agency.

Bereavement refunds

In an emergency situation such as the loss of your immediate family member, it is possible to cancel your airfare and get a refund, but they are usually quite notorious to get and requires proofs like a death certificate or other documentation of the loss.

Weather-related cancellations or delays are slightly better handled by the airline itself. Refunds may not always be likely but the airline may pivot the plane you are flying on, in other cases, they will be glad to rebook for you.

There are ways around incurring a cancel or change fee.

Carriers like American Airlines have a good feature which they sell extra and its called the Fare Add-on for which they charge $68 which is a worth considering the option as it lets you change your flight for free at any time, plus it has an advantage of including checked bag round-trip and priority boarding facilities.

Other airlines work on a more lenient pattern, like Alaska Airlines that lets you cancel flights for No charge as long as it’s done 60 days prior to departure. Some others like Southwest, let you change or cancel a fare almost whenever you like, but instead of a refund, they roll out a credit toward a future flight within a year of the original booking. Airline such as Jet Blue are more stringent when it comes to cancellation, they charge a $135 cancellation fee on non refundable tickets that are priced $150 and above while others like American Airline play in-between the lines, by allowing for a reimbursement on a non refundable ticket if their flight schedule change lasts more than 2 hours.

A significant Schedule Change Loophole

Passengers are also entitled to a refund if there’s a significant schedule change in the departure schedule. Take for example, if the airline changes your flight departure from 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. or the new flight requires a much longer layover or an overnight stay, other instances like a non-stop flight is changed to a connecting flight then the airline is liable to pay the entire refund

Just check to see if there is a significant change in the flight schedule and if there is a significant change then do call the airline and request for a refund, explaining that the schedule no longer works for you.

Besides this airlines may decide refunds on a case by case basis. Check the policies of individual airlines before you book.

No matter what, it really pays to know the cancellation and refund policies of the airline you are flying with to avoid high cancellation or change fee.                 

What does an airline owe passengers in unforeseen circumstances?

In some cases, a carrier may offer some voucher instead of allowing for a reimbursement, however, if the passenger accepts the voucher or gets his flight rebooked than all his bets are off.  

If the flight is stalled due to weather, then they owe nothing to the passengers. In other cases, if the airline puts passengers on another flight the same day or the next day then also they don’t owe anything to the passengers.

In case of an operational issue within airline’s control, and in events like a passenger getting bumped off by the airline involuntarily, then the rights are clearly mentioned in the contract of carriage (often called Rule 260 with many airlines) which is legally binding between the passenger and the airline.

Passengers can also request a change in flight and in date in case the arrival or departure is delayed by 30 minutes.

Travel waiver – during irregular operations like unpredictable whether or a hailstorm, the airline can post a travel waiver wherein the passenger doesn’t have to pay a change fee or the hike in the price of the ticket.

Frequent flyers cancellation or change policy

Different airlines have different policies for their frequent travelers. Cancellation and change fee for example, of United for their MileagePlus frequent flyer program, categorizes passengers into general MileagePlus, elite Silver and Gold status and charges cancellation fee ranging from $125 to $25. American Airline’s AAdvantage program does not allow any room for cancellations and refunds.

It’s perfect to check with the airline on their website regarding their cancellation policy.

How does Travel Insurance help

For frequent travelers, a travel insurance is a handy means to be protected against cancellations and delays. Such an insurance can reimburse up to 100% of the pre-paid and nonrefundable tickets for reasons such as:

  •    Illness
  •    Any Mechanical disruption leading to a 12- to 48-hour delay
  •    If there is a terrorist attack in or near a destination on your itinerary (if the insurance is purchased before the attack)
  •    In a situation of Mandatory evacuation due to severe weather

The aftermath of a recent terrorist attack is unlikely to be covered by such insurances. Foreseeable events such as a storm or a hurricane which is already been forecasted won’t be covered under this policy.

There are “Cancel for any reason” policies as well that comes with a higher premium

Workaround non-refundable tickets

Nency Willims

Nency Willims is a writer whose words are fueled by the inspiration she gains from her surroundings. She also loves cooking, dancing and most of all traveling. She is a regular contributor to many acclaimed travel magazines and blogs. When she is not writing or traveling, you can often find her meddling with her guitar.
Nency Willims

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