The Ultimate Guide to Help You How to Refund Tickets (2023)

Refunds

When your travel plans change, you might want a refund for your airline ticket as well as any additional services you may have purchased, like baggage or seat fees. This page has helpful information to help you figure out if you’re eligible for a refund for your airline ticket or other related services.

Do I have a right to a refund?

Consumers have the right to a refund of the ticket price and/or related fees in the following circumstances.

Flight Cancellation – Regardless of the cause, if a flight is cancelled by the airline and a customer decides not to fly, they are entitled to a refund.
Schedule Change/Significant Delay – If an airline significantly alters the schedule of a flight or delays it, and a customer decides not to travel, the customer is entitled to a refund.

What constitutes a “significant delay,” according to the DOT, is not clearly stated. “Whether you are eligible for a refund depends on a variety of variables, including the duration of the delay, the length of the flight, and your unique situation. DOT evaluates each individual situation to determine if you are qualified for a refund following a significant delay.
Consumers who were unintentionally transferred to a lower class of service are entitled to a refund. The difference in fares, for instance, would be due if a passenger bought a first-class ticket but was downgraded to economy due to an aircraft swap.

Fees for optional services – If a consumer was unable to use an optional service due to a flight cancellation, delay, schedule change, or an instance where the consumer was forcibly denied boarding, the consumer is entitled to a refund of the fees paid for the optional service (such as baggage fees, seat upgrades, or in-flight Wi-Fi).

Notification to the airline may be required in order to receive a refund if you have paid for an optional service but it is either unavailable on the flight or does not function as advertised.
Baggage fees – If a customer paid a baggage fee and the airline has declared the customer’s luggage lost, the customer is entitled to a refund.

To determine when a bag is considered lost, airlines may have different procedures. The majority of airlines will declare a bag lost five to fourteen days after the flight, but this can vary from airline to airline.

A bag could be subject to enforcement action by the DOT if an airline unreasonably refuses to consider it lost after it has been missing for an excessive amount of time. Refund?

Fully refundable ticket – Consumers who purchase fully refundable tickets are entitled to a refund when they do not use the purchased ticket to complete their travel.

Refund ticket

Except in extremely rare circumstances, consumers are not entitled to refunds in the following situations.

Tickets that are non-refundable – Consumers who buy non-refundable tickets are not entitled to a refund unless the airline promises to offer one, cancels a flight, or significantly alters the schedule. .

Personal Issue: Nonrefundable tickets purchased by customers who are unable to travel for personal reasons, such as illness or being late to the airport, are not eligible for refunds.

Unsatisfactory Service: A customer who voluntarily boards a flight but has a negative experience with the airline or the flight is not eligible for a refund.

Incidental Expenses – A consumer who incurs incidental costs due to a significantly delayed or cancelled flight, such as a rental car, hotel room, or meal, is not entitled to a refund of the incidental costs.
Although airlines are not required to issue refunds for non-refundable tickets, they are free to do so. Alternatively, they are also free to issue a credit or travel voucher for use on the airline in the future. Additionally, airlines must keep their promises, though occasionally they may be willing to provide accommodations or other benefits that are not required. To learn more about extra services or accommodations, get in touch with the airline directly.

What if I purchased or reserved my ticket through a travel agent or online travel agency?

Ticket agents and online travel agencies are required to make “proper” refunds when service cannot be performed as contracted on a flight to, within, or from the United States.

The Department interprets the requirement for ticket agents to provide “proper” refunds to include providing refunds in any instance when the following conditions are met:

(i) an airlines cancels or significantly changes a flight; 
 

(ii) an airline acknowledges that a consumer is entitled to a refunds; and
 

(iii) passenger funds are possessed by a ticket agent.

Travel ticket

What should I do if an airline or ticket agent refuses to give me a refund even though I’m entitled to one?

  • You should proactively request a refund in writing from an airline or a ticket agent if you believe that you are entitled to a refund.
  • If you contact the airline or ticket agent to obtain a required refund and you are refused that refund, you should file a complaint against the airline or ticket agent with the Department at https://secure.dot.gov/air-travel-complaint

Cancelling a Ticket Reservation or Purchase within 24 hours of Booking

For airline tickets that are purchased at least seven days before a flight’s scheduled departure date and time, airlines are required to either:

allow consumers to cancel their reservation and receive a full refund without a penalty for 24 hours, or

allow consumers to reserve a ticket (place it on hold) at the quoted prices without paying for the ticket for 24 hours.

Airlines are not required to offer both a hold and a refund option. Check your airline’s policy before purchasing a ticket. However, if an airline accepts a reservation without payment, it must allow the consumer to cancel the reservation within 24 hours without penalty. If an airline requires payment with a reservation, it must allow the consumer to cancel the payment and reservation within 24 hours and receive a full refund.

Although airlines must hold a reservation for 24 hours or provide a refund to consumers at their request within 24 hours of making a reservation, airlines are not required to make changes to a ticket free of charge (for example – change your ticket to a different date or correct a misspelled name on the reservation).

In some cases, instead of paying for a change fee and a potential difference between the original ticket price and the current ticket price, it may be cheaper to request a refund for the ticket and rebook. However, please keep in mind that ticket prices can change quickly.

Does the 24-hour refund/reservation requirement apply to tickets purchased or reserved through a travel agent or online travel agency?

  • No, the 24-hour refund/reservation requirement for airlines does not apply to tickets booked through online travel agencies, travel agents, or other third-party agents.  However, these agents are free to apply the same or similar procedures to provide equivalent or similar customer service.
  • If you purchased your ticket through an online travel agency (or other agent), you should contact the travel agent directly to obtain a refund before contacting the airline.

How quickly are airlines, travel agents, and online travel agencies required to process a refund?

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