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Tips To Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare

When you are travelling to or from the United States, most airline carriers will offer you non-refundable flight tickets. Such tickets, as its name already suggests, are not refundable, in case a passenger wishes to cancel his/her reservation at a later point in time. This means that you may not get your money back, or they may charge you additional fees for cancelling your reservation just hours before your flight’s departure schedule. Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) does not clearly state in its airline carriage policy about claiming refunds, especially on non-refundable airline tickets, there is, however, a slight possibility that allows airliners to do so under certain circumstances.

In this guide, we are going to share with you a few essential tips on how to get a refund if you purchased a non-refundable airline ticket for a domestic or international flight. For booking cheap flight tickets, check out the best online travel websites.

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Eligibility Criteria for Availing Refund on Non-Refundable Airline Tickets

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued regulations that highlight that no cancellation fee is required for passengers who are entitled to a full refund on non-refundable tickets within 24 hours of booking, and as long as the flight is at least 7 days of its scheduled departure. Airlines also have the leverage to hold a reservation for 24 hours, without payment.

However, many airlines may allow you to pay first and refund later if you change your mind. This rule applies to tickets purchased directly with the airline and does not apply to tickets that are booked through an online travel agency or other third-party service providers. In some cases though, most online travel agencies may include policies that are more or less similar to that of the airline carriers.

While airline carriers do allow passengers to avail refunds in the event their flight gets cancelled due to circumstances that are not in the airliner’s control, there may, however, exist different policies among airline carriers with regard to reservation cancellation and refunds. There are many major as well as low-cost airlines based in the United States that may have policies similar to one another. Therefore, it is important you go through your airliner’s refund policy on non-refundable tickets.

There is, but one exception, where passengers holding a non-refundable airline ticket can be granted a refund without a penalty fee. If you cancel your flight reservation not later than 24 hours from the time you purchased the airline ticket, the fare is refunded in full to your original form of payment.

Now, if some unpredictable event occurs that is beyond the control of the airline carrier, then chances are, your flight might get delayed or perhaps, cancelled. In the occurrence of unpredictable events, such as bad weather or due to an intervention by the government of the United States, the airliner has no other option than to abruptly cancel its flight schedules, with or without prior information to its passengers.

How to Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare

There are chances that some airlines may allow their passengers to change their flights without the need for paying additional service fees or receive credit on future reservation bookings. There is also the possibility of changes in flight schedules. In other words, if an airline changes its flight schedule i.e. your flight suddenly changes departure or arrival time, length of layover or switches from a non-stop to a connecting flight, then you may be able to claim a refund.

A change in a flight’s schedule of a few minutes only will usually not warrant a refund, but be diligent in checking your itinerary to make sure there are no significant changes, because the airline may not notify you that a schedule change qualifies for a refund. If you notice a significant change, it is suggested that you call the airline and request a refund, explaining that the schedule no longer works for you.

Below are useful tips and steps on how to get a refund on a non-refundable airline ticket.

Step 1: Submit Application for a Refund on the Airliner/Airport’s Website

If you purchased your domestic or international flight ticket directly from the airline or airport’s official website, you can also cancel your reservation voluntarily and request a refund. The airport or airline carriers also provide web links on websites that allow their customers to easily book a flight, cancel a flight or request for refund by filling out an online form.

You simply have to fill out the necessary details, such as ticket number, passenger’s name, origin and destination cities etc. and then click the Submit button to initiate the cancellation process. Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare. Once your cancellation is verified and approved, your refund also gets processed. This usually takes about 7 business days for the refund amount to reflect in your bank statement. So, you will need to check with your bank.

The web links may appear different on their websites, for example, on American Airlines’ website, their link appears as My Reservation. This allows travellers to cancel their flight and also submit a form, requesting a refund.

The U.S. Department of Transportation states that if your flight is cancelled, no matter the reason, then you are entitled to a full refund, which is credited to your original form of payment for the unused portion of your itinerary.

Step 2: Request a Refund for Tickets Purchased Online Through a Travel Agency

It may happen that instead of booking your flight reservation directly through the airport or airliner, you purchased your airline ticket from a travel agency, either online or by visiting the agent in person. In such a situation, you will need to contact the travel agency to have your reservation cancelled within 24 hours of booking and request a refund.

The sooner you cancel your flight reservation, the more chances you may have of getting a full refund with no cancellation charges. Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare. This is because travel agencies and other third-party service providers may charge fees or refuse your request.

Step 3: Full Refund on Involuntary Change in Flight Schedule

If you book your flight reservation months, or even weeks in advance (especially in the event of the COVID-19 pandemic), there is a high possibility that your flight schedule will change or even get cancelled. Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare. Such change may give you an opportunity to either book a different flight or request a refund, without the need for paying hefty change fees.

Usually, a sudden change in your flight’s schedule may occur due to the reasons given as under:

  • Change in departure or arrival time
  • An equipment swap
  • Change in the duration of a layover
  • A switch from a non-stop to a connecting flight (or vice versa)

Airline policies on changes in flight schedules also vary. Each airline carrier offers different options using which you can change your flight. Also, a few airlines may allow you to change to a different flight, either a day before or after your original flight, while other airlines may only allow changes pertaining to your flight’s departure on the same day.

Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare. In case you want to cancel your flight, a few airlines will issue a refund voucher, while others will credit the full fare back to the original form of payment that you used when booking reservation. However, if the flight’s schedule change is very small, i.e. just a few hours, then the airline may not allow any changes. But, you can still try.

If your flight’s schedule changes in any way, even if it does not meet the regulations stated by the airline, you can contact the airline to query if you can use the change in your favour. Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare. For instance, a 10-minute change might be a big deal in your life, especially on a tightly scheduled day and there is always a good chance that you will find an agent who can help you out.

Step 4: Use Your Travel Insurance and Credit Card Protection

If you do not know, your travel insurance and credit card protection can help cover the cost, in case you want to cancel your flight, even if the airline does not refund you. Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare.

For instance, if you booked your ticket using a credit card that has built-in travel protection, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and if someone in your family suddenly falls sick and is not comfortable travelling, then you can submit a claim through your credit card’s benefits provider to get your non-refundable money back. There will be paperwork involved, but it is possible to get a credit for non-refundable airfare in eligible situations.

You can also contact your credit card issuing bank for more information on claiming refund through  its protection scheme.

Step 5: Make Several Attempts to Contact Customer Service

Last, but not the least, you can always reach out to the customer support service for assistance with availing refund on non-refundable airfare. If your objective is to sort out your flight change ahead of time and the first airline representative you speak to does not give you a satisfying answer, there is no harm in hanging up and trying again with another representative. Get A Refund On Non-Refundable Airfare.

This way, you might bump into one who is willing to help you with all resources at hand. You can further persuade the representative to allow you to speak to their supervisor, who might have the authority to make all the possibilities happen, so long as you both are friendly.

This can also be helpful in uncertain situation, such as political protests leading to forced curfews and flight cancellations. Although there may be no travel waiver issued to you, however, the representative or supervisor could redeposit your unused miles with no fee charged. Had I left it to the first agent, I would have been on the hook for a redeposit fee. Thus, the miles deposited back in your account could help you book another flight to a different destination.

Wrapping Up

With airlines continuously increasing their airfare, being able to get a change or cancellation fee waived or refunded is a big thing. Although airlines have policies in place, you never know when a customer service representative or supervisor may be willing to bend the rules and take an extra step just to help out a passenger whose travel plans have changed. It is also important to pay attention to your flight schedule changes and flight delays as these events might actually take a turn to your advantage. Do not always assume that you will have to pay a change fee, even for non-refundable airfare.

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