How to Get Your Money Back

Kiplinger's Personal Finance|July 2020

How to Get Your Money Back
Some refund policies have been relaxed, but reimbursement isn’t always automatic.
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IF THE CORONAVIRUS UPENDED YOUR plans to travel, attend a concert or get married, you may be able to some of your money back. But it’s easier to get reimbursed for some expenses than for others. Here’s a guide to getting a refund or credit.

Flights. As of April, airlines still owed passengers $35 billion for canceled or postponed flights, according to the International Air Transport Association, an industry group. Airlines are going the extra mile to accommodate travelers who still want to travel but also want the flexibility to change their mind. For example, tickets purchased for flights on Delta Airlines for travel between March 1 and September 30 can be rebooked until September 30, 2022, with no change fee. If you cancel a flight booked before May 31, you’ll receive a credit that’s good for one year. Tickets purchased for travel on JetBlue through June 30, 2020, can be rebooked until January 4, 2021, with no change fee. But while most airlines are making it easier to rebook flights, securing a cash refund for a trip you no longer want to take is trickier.

To get a cash refund rather than a credit, wait to see whether the airline cancels your flight—even if you’ve already decided you want to cancel your trip, says Scott Keyes, founder of ScottsCheapFlights.com. If the airline cancels the flight, the Department of Transportation requires it to give you a cash refund. (Airlines tried to have this regulation changed recently, but the DOT rejected that effort.)

The DOT’s requirement applies to all airlines, domestic and foreign, as long as the flight is taking off or landing in a U.S. airport. You may also be eligible for a cash refund if the airline makes a “significant schedule change,” according to the DOT. The DOT does not define what constitutes a significant change, but you should get a refund if the schedule is altered by two or more hours or if you’re switched from a nonstop flight to connecting flights, Keyes says.

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July 2020