Flight Canceled? How to make the most of tough travel

·3 min read

The airline industry handed out billions of dollars in travel vouchers from canceled flights, but those credits could expire and go to waste if you don’t cash them in soon.

The last two years have been riddled with airlines cancellations. Thousands of flights that never left the ground because of COVID-19 and airline staffing shortages.

Nikki Fazo said, “Yeah, you can see the dates that were supposed to go. It was April of 2020.”

Fazo booked her family on a trip to Disney World in February of 2020. She canceled the trip in March when the COVID pandemic hit and because she canceled, she said JefBlue refused to give her a refund.

>> Woman killed in Columbus-area workplace shooting; Suspect dead after possible electrocution

“It’s just been extremely frustrating,” Fazo said.

According to Fazo, JetBlue gave her travel vouchers that her family was never able to use as those vouchers expired this past March.

“There’s no information sent to you to let you know your travel credits expire,” Fazo said.

Kevin Brasler, with Consumers’ Checkbook said, “Most people really don’t know when their stuff is going to expire.”

Brasler is the Executive Editor with Consumers’ Checkbook. Congressional lawmakers determined the airline industry is sitting on around on $10 billion in unused travel vouchers, but those vouchers come with an expiration date.

>> Dust devil causes chaos at Luxor pool in Las Vegas

Here are three steps you should follow if you have a canceled flight:

Step One: find out if you have an unused voucher. Brasler said if you had a flight canceled any time in the last three years, check with the airline to see if you have a travel credit.

Step Two: Ask for a cash refund. If you do have a voucher, ask the airlines to give you a cash refund. The U.S. Department of Transportation said a “Consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline canceled a flight, regardless of the reason,”

“A lot of times airlines that made a significant schedule change or if the canceled your flight even though by default they gave you this voucher, you can still press your right for a refund,” Brasler said.

Step Three: Book a trip and change later. If you’re not getting anywhere with the airlines, Brasler said book a trip with that unused voucher before it expires – that way id doesn’t go to waste.

“If you’re running up against an expiration date, if your credit is going to expire at the end of this year, go ahead and book a trip before it expires. You can always change it later,” Brasler said.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said his office is flooded with calls from consumers frustrated that they can’t get their money back from canceled flights.

Markey sent a letter to the Department of Transportation asking to crack down on the airline industry’s cancellation and refund policies, among the changes. The senator wants airlines to issue travel vouchers that don’t expire.

“They want their money back or at least they want to decide when they’ll be able to use the voucher for a new flight and it shouldn’t be dictated by the airline,” Markey said.

Dealing with airlines can be frustrating, especially if you’re trying to get more information about a refund or a canceled flight.

Here are some helpful links for refund policies and travel vouchers:

Southwest: Refunds for Flight Reservations https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/purchasing-and-refunds/refund-info-pol.html

Check Travel Funds: https://www.southwest.com/travel-funds/index.html?clk=REFUND-POLICY

Delta: How to Rebook Using an eCredit

https://www.delta.com/us/en/travel-planning-center/change-or-cancel-your-trip/how-to-rebook

Log In To Delta: https://www.delta.com/login/loginPage

American Airlines: Receipts and refunds

https://www.aa.com/i18n/customer-service/contact-american/receipts-and-refunds.jsp

How to find and redeem your travel credit: https://www.aa.com/i18n/customer-service/payment-options/travel-credit.jsp

United: Refund Policies

https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/booking/refund-policies.html

Search MY TRIPS: https://www.united.com/en/us/manageres/mytrips

jetBlue: How to Redeem Travel Certificiates

https://www.jetblue.com/help/travel-certificates

Manage trips: https://www.jetblue.com/manage-trips