Use this trick if you want to get a refund for a flight that hasn't been canceled
Photo by Joshua Hanson on Unsplash

With the pandemic still escalating in most places and trips of all kinds being canceled, a huge number of people in the U.S. (and abroad) are trying to reach the airlines by phone. People who have had flights canceled (I’m among them) want to know their options. And especially after the DOT stepped in, many, if not most, are demanding their money back. The situation is trickier if your flight hasn’t been canceled and instead has been amended or is even on schedule.

In short, if you need to reach an airline to get a refund for a flight for a reason related to COVID-19, you may not have an easy time of it right now. Each airline is responding differently, which is why I wrote this post on my experience trying to get a refund with five different airlines. But for the most part, wait times are long (try this trick if that’s the case) and people are still struggling to recoup value for flights they can no longer take. I’m getting questions from readers every day asking what they can do. Here’s one question I got from a reader named Keith H.:

“I listen to you every Saturday with Leo. Question: I canceled with AA 1.5 days prior to my flight and got a credit. AA then turned around and canceled the flight the eve of my departure. Am I out of luck for a refund? I did try to submit a refund request anyway. Thanks!”

Here’s my advice for Keith and anyone who’s in a similar situation:

“Thanks for the kind words! If your flight hasn’t been canceled by the airline, my best advice is to wait until just a few hours before your flight to review your options/cancel your booking. I know that doesn’t help you [Keith] but because you canceled I don’t think they’ll give you a refund to you (instead of just a credit with no change fee). However, it’s always worth a try. Let us know if they give you a refund.”

It’s tempting to take action as soon as possible if you know you won’t be able to travel. But if your flight isn’t canceled, you’ll likely have a harder time getting an outcome you’re happy with. If you can bear it, wait as long as you can before calling. More time waiting means more time for the airline to officially cancel the flight. If you’re looking to get a refund for a flight, that’s a good thing.


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5 Comments On "Use This Trick If You Want to Get a Refund for a Flight That Hasn't Been Canceled"
  1. Jeannine Margaret Roman|

    Having cancelled all my United awards flights, I find I have a number of the $50 award booking fees still outstanding. Can these be refunded? And how would I do that?

    Many thanks.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      They should’ve refunded the fees. Did you call and ask them?

  2. Barbara|

    How late can you cancel a flight?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Depends on the airline. Some like Air Canada is 2 hours before and others can be up to 10 minutes before. Call the airline to find out for sure

  3. Paula|

    Air New Zealand cancelled all their US flights to Auckland. I asked for a refund 2 weeks ago for my May 7th trip from SFO to AKL. NZ said they only can give me a credit. On Monday, April 6, 2020,
    I called to ask for a refund because of the DOT ruling where all airlines must refund the client’s airfare because of the airlines cancelled flight.
    NZ said they are not part of the US DOT and don’t have to issue a refund.
    Is this correct since NZ is an international carrier?

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