The clock is ticking on credits and vouchers issued by airlines for flights canceled during the pandemic, and a D.C.-based consumers’ group encourages people not to let them go to waste.
“It’s not as if they’re going to remind you that you have these credits or vouchers; you have to go look for them,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Washington Consumers’ Checkbook.
“And then, often it’s difficult to use them; you usually even have to call the airline and book directly with an agent as opposed to being able to do it online,” he said.
When travelers and airlines were canceling flights mid-pandemic, getting refunds wasn’t typically an option.
“Instead of giving refunds by default, airlines gave out credits and vouchers,” Brasler notes.
You could always ask for cash back now, Brasler said.
“A consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline canceled a flight, regardless of the reason,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. “A consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline made a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the consumer chooses not to travel.”
People who cancel flights for their own reasons are only entitled to credit for use on a future flight.
“I think it’s worth asking the airline if you’re entitled to a refund versus the credit they might have for you — even though it might have been a year or more, you might still be entitled to a refund as opposed to the credit. It’s better to get cash back than a credit that’s more difficult to use and has restrictions on it,” Brasler said.
If the airline won’t refund the cost of your ticket, and vouchers are at risk of expiring, you could always request an extension. Brasler said Delta has already announced they’re going to extend their deadline until the end of 2023.
If the experience of trying to rebound from a canceled flight results in a stalemate with the airline, you could always file a complaint. The USDOT has advice for that on its website.