Delayed or Canceled Flight?You have a right to compensation whatever your ticket price.

How can passengers refund ticket for canceled flights?


Booking air tickets several months before the trip can sometimes lead to additional costs and disruption of the planned vacation. An example is the global situation with the coronavirus pandemic.

No one could look into the future and predict that it would stop international flight transportation for an indefinite period. Continue reading to learn what to do if your had a flight cancellation and how to get ticket cash refund from airlines, as this is your passenger right.

Despite the fact that many airlines refuse to make a ticket cash refund, you should still try to claim a refund. Do not settle for a voucher, because: 

according to recent surveys up to 92-95% of people forget to use or end up not being able to use vouchers due to limitations and it goes to waste. Source The Seattle Times. 

Interesting fact that less than 5% of travellers know that they have the right to claim airline refund even for a non-refundable ticket...


Сan you get a refund for a plane ticket?

It depends on why you want to receive a ticket refund, and also on the type of ticket (refundable or non-refundable).

Consider a few cases.

  • The airline canceled the flight. In this case, the flight will not take place on due to the fault of the airline, which means you get a reimbursement of ticket cost in full amount, regardless of whether the passenger purchased the return or non-refundable ticket.
  • The passenger decided to cancel the reservation. If you had a non-refundable ticket, you can only get airport taxes back. As our practice shows, this is approximately 1/3 of the ticket price, so if ticket price is US$ 200, you can expect refund in the range of US$ 40-70. If you have a return ticket, the airline refund your cost. But some of the carriers may also require you to pay a fine or charge rebooking fee - it all depends on the company's internal rules.
  • No show: this is a trick airlines don’t want you to do and want you to believe this is the worst thing that can happen to you, making people online check-in easy. Actually, this is quite the opposite in many cases. In “no show” scenario most airlines can forfeit full or part of air ticket fare, but 

you can still go after paid airport taxes and fees and claim a refund. Idea is simple: if you did not show up for a flight, you did not use airport services and hence airport taxes and fees must be refunded and not be kept by airlines as part of their revenue. 

Typically this can be anywhere from $40 to $220 on some flights to the UK.

As for the situation with cancellation flight due to coronavirus, the passenger has the right to receive a refund on any ticket (refundable and non-refundable), but only after an official announcement on the airline’s website about the flight’s cancellation.

Some cancelled flights might be also entitled to compensation. Check your eligibility and the exact amount with our free flight cancellation compensation calculator.

Note! If you want to return a ticket during the coronavirus period on your own initiative, the airline is not responsible, and therefore is not obligated to reimburse you a price of ticket, but most airlines now adopted flexible changing airfare conditions.


In the USA: what are the rights of passengers in the USA when a flight is canceled?

The US Department of Transportation has a policy that airlines are not required to guarantee a clear schedule. Therefore, passengers should consider this when planning a trip.

According to US Department of Transportation:

However, airlines are not responsible for anything else besides ticket price when it comes to flight cancellation. If you had a special occasion, cruise or other connecting flight under a separate booking you will have to cover those expenses yourself, except when the flight was departing from any EU airport heading to the states. In such limited cases EU law would typically provide right to compensation up to $700 if delay was more than 4 hours.  

Does the airline have an obligation to rebook passengers when a flight has been cancelled? - By law airlines don’t have such an obligation, however most airlines will rebook you on next available flight, subject to availability. 


US airlines policies

American Airlines

The airline is quite loyal in its ticket return policy. The passenger can receive a full refund within the period of 24 hours after making the reservation at any time 2 days before the planned departure date.

American Airlines offers customers a round-the-clock delay on some flights for free if you book at least seven days before departure. That is, the airline during the day you can cancel the flight without good reason and additional costs.


United Airlines

According to DOT regulations, United Airlines also abides by the 24-hour cancellation policy. If you want to extend the cancellation period, you can purchase the FareLock service for an additional fee for 3 or 7 days.



Delta Air Lines has introduced a "risk-free cancellation policy." You can cancel your ticket before midnight on the date you planned to fly. If you are not sure whether you can cancel the ticket without risk, contact their customer service.


Alaska Airlines

DOT full refund guidelines apply to this airline only if the flight has been reduced to at least 24 hours in less than 7 days. Thus, you can cancel within 24 hours for free if your flight takes place more than 1 day before the day of cancellation.


Southwest Airlines

The policy of this airline is similar to Delta: there is no pre-purchase requirement to use the right to a full refund.


JetBlue Airways

If the reservation was made a week or more before the flight, then the passenger can cancel it within 24 hours without penalty. The airline will process a full refund in favor of the passenger or issue a Travel Bank credit card. 

If the client voluntarily canceled the reservation, the airline will give him funds in the form of a JetBlue Travel Bank loan. 


Hawaiian Airlines

Tickets can be fully refunded at any time.

Change regarding the flight number and departure dates with the same departure / destination point can be carried out free of charge.

Refund requests are accepted through the use of Hawaiian Airlines personal reservations.


Air Canada

Air Canada will cancel any ticket purchased and provide a full refund without penalty within 24 hours of purchase. After 24 hours, voluntary changes to your itinerary may require additional fees and tariff increases. If you are traveling on a non-refundable ticket, the airline will not be able to make exceptions in the event of an unexpected trip cancellation or emergency medical care.

Any travel credit transferred to the account for unused tickets is personal: it must be used by the person whose name is indicated on the original ticket.


Spirit airlines

Voluntary refunds will be made in accordance with the applicable tariff rules. No refunds will be made for a non-refundable reservation. In case the Spirit cannot provide a previously confirmed place and cannot redirecting the guest through the Spirit, the airline will return the money, as follows:

  1. If no part of the reservation was used, the return will be equal to tariff paid by guest.
  2. If part of the reservation was used, the return will be equal to amount of unused part.
  3. Guests participating in the cancellation or delay of Spirit Airlines for more than two (2) Three (3) options will be available in the watch: 1) moving, 2) credit for future travel or 3) refund.
  4. Refunds will be made only in the form of payment that was used for original purchase.



Within 24 hours from the time of the initial booking, you can change it in accordance with your rate. Cancellation of the initial reservation during the day implies a full refund. If your trip was planned within seven (7) days from the time of booking, the full cost of your flight will be returned to you in the form of a tourist credit, unless flights must be sent within 24 hours after the time of booking (i.e. flights on the same day). The passenger will receive a refund for the cancellation of a ticket purchased at the airport ticket office, in cash, if any, or by check within 20 days after receiving a refund request. In addition to the cost of tickets, the passenger will also receive back fees for unpaid additional services due to a resale or cancellation of the flight.



In EU passengers are provided with the fundamental right to receive a ticket cash refund

During the coronavirus period, airlines have two options for resolving problems with canceled flights:

  • free rebooking on the same flight at a later date or rebooking on any other airline flight with a surcharge of the fare difference.
  • issuing a voucher for an amount equal to the cost of the ticket or 10-20% more than this amount for buying tickets during the year (or another period - at the discretion of the airline)

Airlines deliberately keep silent on their official websites and actually withholding information about passenger right in the event of a flight cancellation (even because of a coronavirus) can receive a reimbursement of ticket price.

Clause 13 in Preamble of the Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 state:

In accordance with Clause 1 and 2 Article 8:

Check our article about EU 261 compensation where we explain what flights are covered and how you can get your compensation. 


EU Commission affirmed airlines obligation to provide ticket cash refund in its official Guidelines.

Obligation of the airline to pay the refund also confirmed in Commission Notice (EC) Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19 (Brussels, 18.3.2020 C(2020) 1830 final).

Sub-clause 2.2. Clause 2 of the Commission Notice (EC) (Brussels, 18.3.2020 C(2020) 1830 final) state:

In accordance with Sub-clause 3.2 Clause 3:


Can I voluntarily change my flight without extra cost?

 It depends on the internal rules of the airline. Some allow this to be done for free, while others will charge you an additional fee for this. But you will have to pay the difference between the tariffs and rebooking fee according to airlines policies.

When an airline significantly changes your route, you have the right to choose another flight that is more convenient for you.

For example, you had a direct ticket from London to New York, but the airline canceled this flight, and in return offered a night flight or connecting flight with a change in Lisbon. You can refuse an inconvenient option for you and ask them to rebook for the original flight, but the next day. Also, since your new flight will likely arrive 4 hours late from initial schedule you can also claim $680 in compensation per person under EU law, which applies to all outbound flights from the EU. 


How to refund money for non-refundable tickets?

The fees for changing or canceling your non-refundable tickets are usually very high. For example, in the USA, a reservation change fee may be $200 domestically and up to $750 for international flights. However, this only applies to refund to the card.


Do airlines give a cash refund?

As practice shows, no despite legal obligation to do so. If in the first weeks of the mass cancellation of flights, airlines were still paying, now the situation has changed. Continue reading to learn what to do in such case.

The explanations of the US Department of Transportation and European Commission clearly indicate that the passenger in this situation has the right to choose a cash refund, a voucher or a free re-booking (in the EU only, in practice all US airlines do it as well).

But instead of a money back, the airlines openly “impose” vouchers. This is a violation of the rights of air passengers, as you are deprived of the right to choose. Also, as cited above only 5%-7% of people use a voucher, all others lose it or unable to apply due to time or other restrictions. 

An air carrier can replace a financial refund with a voucher only with the consent of the passenger.

If you are not satisfied with the option of receiving a voucher - do not agree, but demand the air ticket cash refund. The AirAdvisor team will help you get a refund in cash.

In addition to vouchers, airlines also offer free re-route of flight dates. Of course, this is also not the best option for the passenger, as it is not always convenient for him and a number of countries have introduced restrictions on entry.


What to do, if the flight is not canceled, but the passenger does not have the right to enter the country of arrival or transit.

Now AirAdvisor lawyers receive a lot of complaints from air passengers who bought tickets after opening the borders, arrived at the airport, and during registration they were denied boarding due to lack of documents to enter the country of arrival. The clients asked us how to get ticket refund in this situation.

IMPORTANT: The airline is not responsible in this case for a flight interruption. Airline is not required to pay compensation and ticket cash refund. In all fairness it is simple unreasonable to assume that airlines can control each passenger is aware of entry rules that are constantly changing, it is simply responsibility of each passenger to check she meets entry or transit requirements.

Therefore, before you get a valid ticket for yourself, check the information regarding the rules for entering other countries and the necessary documents for crossing the border.

And we remind you that if you have encountered a delay, cancellation of a flight (except for a period of epidemiological restrictions due to coronavirus) or overbooking for the last 3 years, the AirAdvisor team will help you receive compensation in the amount of from 250 to 600 euros.

Finally, if you flight has been cancelled and your airlines denies your cash refund request, please submit a claim with us and our team will work on you case based on No-Win, No-Fee basis, no credit card asked. We have a lot of experience in this and we recommend you to act fast, because there is no guarantee your airline will not be out of business soon.

Safe travel and continue reading AirAdvisor Blog for useful travel tips and travel hacks.

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Kadaja 14.11.2020

I need my refund please

Kadaja 14.11.2020

I need my refund please

Fredericus  16.07.2020

I have been looking for this information for a long time. Thank you, guys:)

John 16.07.2020

I will never buy tickets for the year in advance again

Garry 16.07.2020

Airlines are trying to cash in on us ... (( Thank you for telling us how to get a refund ticket

Anna 16.07.2020

I agreed to re-rooting, because I didn’t know that I could get a сash refund ... It's a pity that I read this article late

Manuel 16.07.2020

I've been trying to get money from United Airlines for a month, and they give me a voucher!

Carlo 16.07.2020

I am upset that I do not have documents to enter Italy, so my ticket was lost

Valentin 16.07.2020

Hi guys! Useful article. But tell me in practice, how long does it take to get a refund from American Airlines? I did not find this in the article

Rafael 16.07.2020

Wizz Air has not responded to my request for a ticket refund for 2 weeks now. Сould you help me?

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