Airlines now required to give cash refunds for canceled flights

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Airlines are now required to make it easier for passengers to get a refund when their flights are canceled or considerably delayed, according to a new rule announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Under the new regulation — which is designed to give passengers a clear understanding of the specific circumstances in which airlines must provide refunds — carriers must “promptly” give air travelers “automatic cash refunds” when they are owed.
That includes instances when passengers experience long-delayed flights or cancellations, significant delays in baggage returns, or when paid-for extra services are not provided.
“Passengers deserve to get their money back when an airline owes them — without headaches or haggling,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday in a statement. “Our new rule sets a new standard to require airlines to promptly provide cash refunds to their passengers.”
Before Wednesday’s ruling, airlines would set their own standards when deciding what type of incidents warranted refunds — including some that offered “less consumer-friendly” policies during spikes in flight cancellations and changes, DOT officials said in a news release.
Since each company would offer a different refund policy, passengers were never clear about their refund rights, officials said. The new rule defines the circumstances under which customers are entitled to those refunds.
Passengers will be entitled to a refund when their flight is canceled or significantly changed — which is defined as a delay lasting at least three hours for domestic flights and six hours for international travel — as long as they don’t accept another flight or a travel credit instead.
The rule also applies to passengers who file a mishandled baggage report and don’t receive their bags within 12 hours for domestic flights or between 15 and 30 hours for international flights, depending on the length of the flight.
Fees for add-ons, such as Wi-Fi, seat selection, or in-flight entertainment, should also be promptly refunded in cash if the airline fails to provide the service.
Carriers will have between six and 12 months to implement the new rules, DOT officials said.

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