What Should You Do If The Airline Won’t Refund You?

Chances are, if you’ve had any travel plans over the past few months, they’ve been canceled. Personally, we’ve had four major trips canceled already. While these are all relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, it can still cause a lot of personal frustration.

Due to the unprecedented demand, call centers and web support teams have been under pushed to the max. You may have noticed a lack of response from many companies at the moment. While some have long hold times, others are just refusing to answer your inquiries unless your trip is within 72 hours. While that can be stress-inducing, there’s at least some logic to prioritize customers with the most immediate needs.

However, what do you do if you’re within that window and still can’t get in contact with the company?

Try Social Media

a screenshot of a social media postThough things have gotten better, many airlines and travel agencies won’t even take your call unless your flight is scheduled to depart within 72 hours. Chances are though, you don’t want to continue stressing and waiting on hold to see whether you’ll get refunded before your originally rescheduled departure date or not. Sometimes, sliding into an airline’s DMs can be the easiest way to get things done.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I’ve found that sending a direct message on Twitter has been one of the most effective ways to get in touch with airlines. For all the negative customer service stories, airlines are surprisingly some of the most responsive brands on social media. They’re almost always quick to respond. Some have prompts setup to correctly direct your message while others will just let you send an unprompted query.

While they may not respond right away, I’ve found that most of the major airlines will respond to your message within 24 hours. Maybe it’s not the most immediate or personal method, but it sure beats the heck out of listening the same hold music for an hour.

File a Complaint

Ok, so you’ve tried calling and couldn’t get through. Then you tried sending someone a message on Twitter and still didn’t receive a response.

If you got through and the airline only offered a voucher, then chances are they’re wrong. If your flight arrives or departs in the US or the EU, you’re legally entitled to a full refund. Both the US Department of Transportation and European Commission have stated that airlines must offer passengers a full refund in their original payment form for canceled flights. Even if the airline tries to redefine the word “canceled“.

However, as we’ve seen, some airlines have decided that they don’t want to play by the rules (looking at you Lu. If your flight is canceled and the airline won’t issue a refund, it’s worth filing a complaint with a governing regulatory body. DOT complaints require airlines to acknowledge the complaint within 30 days and respond within 60 days. Is it the most immediate method? No. Still, slow progress is better than no progress.

Issue a Chargeback

a coffee cup and a credit cardUnfortunately, filing a complaint isn’t always a guarantee to get your money back. At least in the short-term. As we’ve seen, airlines like Lufthansa and Air Canada have decided government regulations don’t apply to them. That’s where the next step comes in – filing a chargeback.

While this should be your last resort, it’s not an option to overlook. In order to file a chargeback, you must have exhausted all options and still have your refund rejected.

If you paid with a credit card and the airline won’t refund you, then you should file a chargeback with your card issuer. To do so, contact the bank you paid for your flights with and explain the situation. Some banks will require a certain amount of time to pass, but there have been reports of those requirements being waived given the circumstances.

Final Thoughts

These are unprecedented times for the travel industry. However, that doesn’t mean that airlines and hotels should be off the hook. Sure, these businesses are going through a cash crunch at the moment, but what about their customers? Isn’t money just as important to a parent that just lost their job?

At the end of the day, these are service industries. When things hopefully return to normal, remember those who treated you well and others who treated you poorly. I know we certainly will

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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