Do you have a summer travel headache story? We all do. From refunds to vouchers, every airline operates differently in what they’ll do for you if you have a flight cancelation or delay. Learn what you need to know before you book your next trip and how you can even save on plans you already have.
This time of year especially, we get a lot of questions about your rights when it comes to travel.
Question: Are you guaranteed to get a refund if your flight is canceled or massively delayed?
You might get meal vouchers; hotel stays or refunds. But not all airlines are the same. The Department of Transportation says you are entitled to a refund if the airline cancels a flight regardless of the reason, and the consumer chooses not to travel.
Summer Hull, content director for The Points Guy travel website, says it’s important to know this because airlines will often encourage you to get a credit for a future flight.
You are also entitled to a refund for massive delays but if you choose to wait on that later flight what each airline will do for you varies. Hull explained a simple way to check what your airline might do.
“A cool thing that the Department of Transportation has done is create a dashboard that shows you what airlines will do different things for you in the event of a cancelation or delays that go three hours or longer,” explains Hull. “You’ll be able to see what your airline is doing. It might be meal vouchers; it might be hotels it might be ground transportation to that hotel. It might be rebooking on a new airline.”
For example, the DOT dashboard shows Alaska and JetBlue are the only airlines that offer credit or travel vouchers when a cancellation results in passengers waiting for three or more hours.
Another helpful feature on the dashboard: You can see which airlines guarantee adjacent seats for children 13 or under at no additional cost for all fare types. That’s Alaska, American and Frontier. The customer service policies for all airlines are also easy to find here.
Question: Can you save money on your trip even after you’ve booked it?
You probably booked your summer travel weeks ago but then you see a better deal. What can you do?
Hull explains how using Google Flights can help you save money. First, set “price track alerts” for the trip you booked.
“Unless you’ve booked once a non-refundable pay up front rate you can change those bookings. Once a week, every few days, go back and check on the things you already had booked in terms of car rentals and hotels, maybe you can rebook it for less than you already had it looked in at,” said Hull.
Hull says for flights you want to make sure the airline will either refund your money or give you travel credit. If they will, you just rebook the same flight at the lower price and then cancel the higher-priced flight.
Besides cars and hotels, you can also set alerts for cruises and look for last-minute “better” deals that may pop up. For saving money on upcoming trips, you can also enter your departing city and potential dates into google flights and see what areas are cheapest to fly.
Watch the full Ask Amy episode here to learn more money saving travel hacks.
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This really could happen to anyone so we hope that by sharing how this scam works you will recognize it if it happens to you.