Flight to Jamaica canceled? What to know about refunds and luggage

·3 min read

Anna Irizarry, Cassandra Belton and Kim Jones said they were about 20 minutes from Montego Bay Thursday when Jamaican airport workers went on strike. The airport in Jamaica closed, so the women had to turn back to the U.S.

[RELATED COVERAGE: Vacationers’ flight from Charlotte diverted due to strike at Jamaican airport]

At last check, the travelers said they were trying to get their money back from American Airlines.

If your flight is canceled, you’re entitled to a refund.

“It’s as simple as that,” said Jason Stoogenke, an investigator with Action 9.

The refund includes all the fees that went with it, including baggage fees.

Passengers are entitled to a refund if the flight isn’t canceled if there is a significant schedule change or “significant” delay. However, it’s not clear what qualifies as significant.

If your flight is canceled and you want a refund:

  • Start with the airline.

  • f you bought your ticket through a third-party website or a travel agent, start there instead.

  • If you used a credit card, whoever sold you your ticket must process it within seven business days. If using cash or a check, it is 20 business days.

The airline owes you the difference in price if it switches your seat to a lower-class section than you paid for without you agreeing to it.

[ALSO READ: American Airlines celebrates 40 years at Charlotte Douglas International Airport]

You’re not entitled to a refund for expenses you may incur because of the flight issues, such as a rental car, hotel or extra meals.

Airlines may reimburse you or give you credit or a voucher. However, they don’t have to.

For the most part, you are not entitled to a refund because of bad service.

Canceling a flight:

If you cancel your flight, you only get money back if you bought a refundable ticket. Otherwise, assume you’re out the money.

Travel insurance:

Travel insurance can help. Ensure you know what’s covered and — maybe more importantly —what’s not covered.

Insurance covers you if you get sick, have an emergency or jury duty, or a vendor cancels on you.

It doesn’t cover if you just get cold feet, but there is a policy that does.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke has reported about the “Cancel For Any Reason” policy.

Many CFAR policies even cover pandemics, while standard ones don’t.

[Action 9 Investigates: Will travel insurance cover pandemics differently from now on?]

CFARs usually cost about 40% more than regular travel insurance and you will only get about 50% to 75% back.

Stoogenke recommends that you should always research the insurance company before you buy it, because they’re not all the same.

“Shop around,” Stoogenke said.

Hotel/vendor cancellations:

If a hotel or other vendor cancels on you, don’t assume the company bears the loss.

The contract puts the loss on the consumer a lot of the time.

We saw that a lot during the early days of the pandemic, especially with weddings and beach house rentals.

Read the fine print and know what you’re signing.


The passengers Stoogenke spoke with said their flight departed, but it didn’t get to Jamaica. So they’re entitled to a refund, which includes all the fees that went with it, such as baggage fees.

The passengers said they could not retrieve their baggage when they returned to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

“I said, ‘My luggage is having a vacation without me,’” Irizarry said.

When your suitcase doesn’t make it to your destination, it’s the airline’s job to find it, and the airline may have to compensate you for it. Federal transportation officials say most airlines declare a bag lost between five and 14 days after the flight. If so, the airline must compensate you for what was in your bag.

There are limits in both cases, except for when it comes to “assistive devices,” such as wheelchairs. Click here for more about delayed or damage baggage.

If you need to fight for a refund:

If your problem with your refund or baggage drags on, file a complaint with the U.S. DOT.

(Watch the video below: Vacationers’ flight from Charlotte diverted due to strike at Jamaican airport)