Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled or delayed?
International and domestic flights may be delayed or cancelled for numerous reasons, including severe weather, technical issues, or global events. In such cases, passengers often wonder if it is possible to receive a refund for their inconvenience.
This overview will guide you through the process of understanding under what circumstances you are entitled to compensation, and how you can claim it.
Compensation for Cancelled Flights
The conditions for flight cancellation compensation differ slightly based on your location and the airline's terms. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States, if your flight is cancelled and you choose to cancel your trip entirely, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation even for non-refundable tickets.
In the European Union, under EC 261, passengers are entitled to compensation if they were informed about the cancellation less than 14 days before the scheduled departure date. The amount may range from €250 for short flights and up to €600 for longer ones.
Compensation for Delayed Flights
For delayed flights, the rules again vary. In the US, airlines are not legally obligated to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or cancelled. Passengers may, however, be entitled to a refund in certain instances such as a significant delay.
Under EC 261 in the EU, passengers are eligible for compensation if their flight arrives at their final destination more than three hours late. It's important to note that these regulations only apply to delays within the airline's control.
How to Claim Compensation
If you believe you are entitled to compensation, the first action is to contact the airline. They may offer compensation in the form of cash, travel vouchers, or miles in their loyalty programme. The airline should be the first point of contact as they have a right to assess the situation.
If your claims are not addressed satisfactorily, you may escalate the matter. In the U.S, you can contact the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, and in the EU, you can contact the national enforcement body in the country where the flight was due to depart.
While dealing with a cancelled or delayed flight can be frustrating, understand that certain regulations protect your rights as a passenger. Diligently pursue all lines of compensation that are available to you.
Remember to read the airline's policies before booking and always maintain your boarding passes and other travel documents as they may be required when making a claim.