Airline refunds made easier: US DOT proposing new laws providing compensation for flyers amid delays, cancellations

Travelers, left, run to their gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Friday, July 1, 2022, in Houston. The July Fourth holiday weekend is off to a booming start with airport crowds crushing the numbers seen in 2019, before the pandemic. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Those days of “no-refund” policies at most airlines may soon be a thing of the past.

According to a news release, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a proposal that would allow for “a major expansion of consumer rights” in terms of cancellations, and refunds for both domestic and international flights, saving headaches and pain for passengers.

“When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably, and affordably,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement. “This new proposed rule would protect the rights of travelers and help ensure they get the timely refunds they deserve from the airlines.”

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According to CNBC, airlines are not legally bound to give customers some type of compensation for delayed or canceled flights, or if they missed their flight due to an illness such as COVID-19.

If the proposal moves forward, passengers would be eligible for a refund in any of the following circumstances:

  • If your flight is canceled
  • If the flight departure or flight arrival time is delayed more than three hours on domestic flights, six hours for international flights
  • Changes to the departing or arriving airport
  • The number of connecting flights increase in the itinerary
  • Changes to the aircraft flown that would include significant downgrades in amenities and air travel experience.

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The DOT did not specify in the release when the proposal will be made into law, however, members of the public are invited to a virtual meeting hosted by the Aviation Consumer Protection Agency Committee scheduled for Aug. 22. For more information and to register, click here.

What do you think of this proposal? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 3, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.