Let’s talk about getting refunds from flights… We know that as of last week – The U.S. Department of Transportation has mandated airlines to refund passengers in the event flights are canceled OR significant schedule changes or made OR government restrictions prevent flying due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Can you go back to the airline if you were given a credit and get a refund instead of a credit? This would be at the discretion of the airline – and it is to note – that despite the the statement from DOT – it is LIKELY that airlines will continue to try and offer credits instead of a refund – particularly as the DOT has said they wont’ be strictly enforcing this of yet – and they are giving airlines ‘time’ come into compliance with the mandate. Thus some airlines might act sooner on this than others.
How long can airlines continue to refund customers? Not for too long, however, while we can assume April and the early part of May people are going to be pulling trips, there is a chance that when it comes to summer and fall travel we could see an up-tick as restrictions are lifted. And yet, to counter this, I also predict that less exposed travel ideas, like a road trip will rise in popularity.
How are the airlines doing when it comes to responding to customers? Is there a work flow you and other industry insiders are noticing is working better than others? A lot of people are complaining of not being able to reach airlines. Now the good news is that many airlines like Delta, for instance, are aware of how jammed the call centers are and are automatically issuing refunds or credits on missed or cancelled flights now. My advice to travelers is that if you are really struggling to reach an airline, keep in mind that The Federal Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute a charge for services not provided.
Reimbursement vs travel credit – even with this new mandate, should we be taking the refund versus the credit? Remember – as I have said – that airlines want to keep your business. When a flight is cancelled, airline systems try and re-book you on the closest available flight or offer you a credit voucher – but this keeps them holding your business and your cash. Now what do you do if your flight is NOT canceled? Hold onto your reservation SO THAT the airline calls the cancellation BEFORE you do – this will increase your chances of being entitled to a refund.