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US Flight Cancellation Compensation: Your Rights for Domestic & International Routes

US Flight Cancellation Compensation: Your Rights for Domestic & International Routes

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: May 09, 2024

Claim up to $670 (€600) in canceled flight compensation

In 2023, 16.3 million flights were canceled in the United States according to the US Department of Transportation. Surprisingly, this number reflects the lowest cancellation rate the US has seen in a decade, but if you’re like most people, that still looks like a pretty big number.

Are you wondering what you can do about canceled flights and if you can get flight compensation for this kind of inconvenience?  In this article, we’re going to unpack the complexities of flight cancellation compensation in the US, and show you what you can do  the next time you find yourself in this situation.

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Key Points

  1. Passengers on US airlines can claim up to $670 (€600) if their scheduled flight was departing from EU or UK airports.
  2. US airlines are not required by law to compensate passengers for canceled domestic flights. 
  3. Each individual airline determines what they will provide to passengers if their flight is canceled.

US Flight Compensation Regulations

In the United States, the Department of Transportation enforces your rights as an airline passenger. Currently, no federal laws are in place requiring airlines to compensate passengers for delayed or canceled domestic flights. Instead, airlines make their own rules on how to assist passengers in these situations.  

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AirAdvisor is happy to help with your claim, so you can avoid the stress of dealing with airlines and complicated laws.

If your flight is canceled, then you have two options:

  1. Accept an alternate flight OR
  2. Get a full ticket refund as well as any fees you paid for seat selection or checked baggage
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Also, you’re entitled to this refund even if you have a non-refundable ticket and regardless of what caused your flight to be canceled.

What You Can Expect From Airlines for US Canceled Flights

Even though domestic flights in the United States aren’t eligible for canceled flight compensation, you can get some assistance from individual carriers. 

Alaska 

  • They’ll rebook you on another Alaska flight or with another airline with no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel
  • Travel voucher or credit if your cancellation causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your alternate flight
  • They offer frequent flyer miles for cancellation that causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight

Allegiant

  • They’ll rebook you on another Allegiant flight or with another airline with no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel

Delta

  • They’ll rebook you on another Delta flight or with another airline with no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel

American

  • They’ll rebook you on another American flight or with another airline with no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel

Hawaiian

  • They’ll rebook you on another Hawaiian flight or with another airline with no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel

Spirit

  • They’ll rebook you on another Delta flight for no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel

Southwest

  • They’ll rebook you on another Delta flight for no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel

Frontier

  • They’ll rebook you on another Delta flight for no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight

JetBlue

  • They’ll rebook you on another JetBlue flight or with another airline with no extra charge
  • Free meals if your canceled flight causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your replacement flight
  • Free hotel stay for overnight cancellation
  • Free transport to and from a hotel
  • Travel voucher or credit if your cancellation causes you to wait 3 or more hours for your alternate flight

Canceled Flight Compensation for International Flights

Canceled Flight Compensation for International Flights

If you’re flying internationally, then the rules for flight cancellations are determined by the Montreal Convention, unless you’re traveling in the UK, EU, or Canada. Under the rules of this treaty, passengers are entitled to have their flight rebooked or a refund. You might also be eligible for some reimbursement for any purchases you’ve had to make as a result of your canceled flight including food, drink, ground transportation, and missed hotel stays.

Compensation for EU and UK Flights

If you’re traveling in the EU or UK on a US airline, then your rights for flight cancellation compensation are protected by EU 261 and UK 261 both of which provide more generous compensation for canceled flights that are within the airline’s control. 

More specifically, if you depart from an EU or UK airport on a US airline, then your rights are protected by the regulations in each region. So, if your flight is canceled, then you could claim as much as $670 (€600) in compensation even if you’re a US passenger on a US airline.

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PRO TIP: No matter where you travel, your air passenger rights are based on the airline and the route you’re traveling, and not on your citizenship or country of residence.

Compensation for flights in Canada

If you’re a passenger on a US carrier, and your flight is departing from a Canadian Airport, then your air passenger rights will be protected by Canadian regulations. This means that if your flight was canceled with less than 2 weeks notice, you could claim up to $744 USD in compensation as long as the cancellation was considered within the airline’s control. 

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PRO TIP: If a flight is canceled because of an airport strike, dangerous weather, air traffic control issues, civil unrest, or other circumstances outside the airline’s control, then they are not required to compensate you for the canceled flight.

Steps to Take When Your Flight is Canceled

Steps to Take When Your Flight is Canceled

If you’ve traveled to the EU, UK, or Canada on a US airline, and your departing flight was canceled, then you will have to take specific steps in order to successfully claim canceled flight compensation. 

Even though the regulations in these regions require airlines to compensate you under the right circumstances, it doesn’t mean they’ll just send you a payment. You’ll have to support your claim with the right documentation. 

If your flight is canceled, take these steps:

  1. Keep track of your travel documents including your boarding pass.
  2. Find out from airline staff why your flight was canceled and write down what they say
  3. Ask to be rebooked on a different flight or ask for a refund
  4. Remember what time you arrived at your final destination and document it.
  5. Request assistance in the form of food and drink
  6. Avoid signing anything like a waiver or accepting vouchers (these may eliminate your right to compensation)
  7. If you need overnight accommodation as a result of your canceled flight, request this from the airline
  8. If you have any out-of-pocket expenses, keep all your receipts so you can submit them as part of your claim.

For more detailed information on what to do when your flight is canceled, take a look at our guide that walks you through each step and gives you helpful tips on how to quickly get rebooked and manage flight cancellations like a pro. 

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PRO TIP: Be careful when offered travel vouchers from the airline as these can have lots of restrictions as well as very short use-by dates. If you’re trying to choose between a voucher and a cash refund, choose the refund or make sure you understand the fine print. Also, if you sign a waiver or accept a voucher you may be eliminating your chances of flight compensation.

let AirAdvisor handle the compensation claim process for you

Where to Find Help

Trying to find your way through the maze of airline regulations can be especially challenging, but help is available! AirAdvisor’s professional legal team has been helping passengers get airline compensation since 2017, and to date, we’ve assisted more than 240,000 get the money they’re owed for flight disruptions. As experts in the field, we have a 98% success rate for winning compensation for delayed, overbooked, and canceled flights

Plus, we work on a no-win, no-fee basis, which means that you can trust our legal professionals to handle your flight cancellation claim for you completely risk-free. Best of all, our fees are lower than our competitors, and we don’t get paid unless you do! 

So, if you’ve had a canceled flight in the last 3 years, let AirAdvisor handle the compensation claim process for you. We’ll save you the time, effort, and expense of court costs, and you could be awarded up to $670 (€600)! Gotta love that, right? 

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New Proposed US Regulations: Airline Passengers Bill of Rights

New Proposed US Regulations: Airline Passengers Bill of Rights

Currently, airline passengers in the US have very few protections especially when compared to the UK, EU, and Canada. But in 2021, a Passengers Bill of Rights was introduced to the Senate that, if passed, would give passengers protections similar to the rights enjoyed by travelers in other regions. 

The proposed legislation has specific protections for delays, overbooking, access to information and other rights. But when it comes to canceled flights, the new rules would require airlines to compensate you up to $1,350 USD when your flight is canceled. The rules would also require airlines to rebook you on another flight at no extra charge and provide you with assistance for food, refreshments, and lodging.  

People Also Asked

Are passengers in the US entitled to any compensation for lost or damaged baggage?

Yes! On US domestic flights, you could get up to ,800 for lost, damaged or delayed baggage.

Is there any compensation for delayed flights in the US?

At the moment, airlines are not required to compensate you for delayed flights within the United States.

What happens if you were flying to Europe on a US carrier departing the US and the flight was canceled. Would you be eligible for compensation under EU261?

No. Unfortunately, you would have to be departing from an EU territory or flying with an EU-based airline to get canceled flight compensation under EU 261.

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