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How to get a refund when your flight is going nowhere

Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 13, 2021

PHOENIX — You've seen the images for days showing passengers stranded at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport and others as airlines cancel flight after flight.

So, what are your rights if it happens to you? That depends on why it happened.

While Spirit and American Airlines have been blaming most of the cancellations on weather, Willis Orlando with Cheap Flights, believes there's another root cause.

"What's going on now is that they have a shortage of staff ," he stated. Orlando says there's a reason airlines might try and blame weather for the cancellations.

Federal rules state that if an airline cancels a flight outright for any reason, they must refund your money if you request it.

But if that doesn't happen and they just delay the flight because of an "act of God," like weather, then that's not the case.

"The airline is off the hook to do anything for you other than getting you from point a to point b," Orlando said.

It could be in the form of a credit or a flight days later. So, what are your rights?

Again, you can get a refund and reschedule your flight elsewhere at a better time possibly, if the airline cancels.

It's the same thing if there's a significant delay, like two hours or more.

But the government hasn't defined "significant" or how weather plays into it.

Each airline has their own delay definition, usually in their online policies.

Also, if your flight is canceled or changed, be proactive.

Instead of relying on the airline, Orlando says, "Choose an alternative route on the airline if you can or a partner and approach them 'Hey I've got a solution. Can you re-book me on this flight instead?"

Orlando says his clients have gotten better deals by treating overworked airline customers service people with respect.

Check the U.S. Department of Transportation cancellation rules and passenger protections.