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Flights continue to be canceled as airlines grapple with staffing problems related to the pandemic. Thousands of flights have been affected and the end of the disruptions is not in sight. As airlines continue to try to accommodate stranded passengers, the Better Business Bureau serving eastern North Carolina (BBB) provides guidance on seeking compensation and refunds for cancellations.
When a consumer flies a domestic flight in the United States, the United States Department of Transportation oversees the rules regarding flight delays and cancellations. In general, there are no US federal laws that require airlines to provide passengers with compensation for a delayed flight. In Canada, see the guide to flight cancellations and delays. Airlines may have their own policies and may provide better benefits if a flight is canceled or significantly delayed within the airline’s scope of control. Consumers can have additional benefits if they purchased the flight with a credit card that offers additional travel protections. Check the agreement with the cardholder and with the airline. Consumers should save receipts for additional purchases, such as a hotel room, so they can send them to their airline or credit card company for later reimbursement. Typically, almost all domestic airlines will try to accommodate passengers on the next available flight and sometimes on a different airline.
When the airline cancels flights, consumers are always entitled to a full refund. This includes reimbursement of any baggage fees or extras, such as extra legroom, for a seat. If the airline offers a coupon instead of a refund, ask about expiration and blackout dates. Airlines may also have additional restrictions on the use of coupons. Consumers are not required to accept coupons and can demand a full refund instead. However, if the trip was canceled by the consumer, they may not be entitled to a full refund.
BBB asks consumers to consider the following tips when handling travel interruptions:
Check Delays – Travelers can check the latest information for their flight on their operator’s website or through the airline’s telephone reservation system. Often times, delays do not occur until the day of the flight and the airline must update your flight information within 30 minutes of receiving a status change notice.
Check the airline and credit card terms: While federal regulations do not require airlines to reimburse expenses such as rooms or food in the event a flight is canceled or severely delayed, the airline and credit card companies may have different policies. Buy tickets with a credit card that offers travel protection or traveler’s insurance and check the policies of each airline.
Keep Documentation – Keep receipts and records of expenses incurred as a result of a significantly delayed or canceled flight. These may be needed later to recover expenses.
Check the airline’s website – Most airlines allow consumers to initiate refunds directly on the airline’s website. Using a website can help a consumer get a refund or rebook a trip much quicker than waiting for a consumer service agent in person or over the phone.
The rules are different for foreign flights: flights that were canceled while you were in another country will be affected by the laws of that nation. Check with the local country’s transportation department while traveling internationally.
For more information visit bbb.org or contact Luis Feliz firstname.lastname@example.org