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Knowing your rights when you fly this holiday season

Posted at 5:05 AM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 12:46:32-05

PHOENIX — Taking to the skies over the holidays? The Let Joe Know team is talking with travel industry experts about your rights when you fly. For example, are you entitled to refunds or expense reimbursements when your trip is delayed or canceled?

The answer really depends on the delay and the airline's policies.

The US Department of Transportation regulates the airline industry and has set a number of rules airlines have to follow when it comes to things like refunds for canceled and delayed flights.

It's important to note when you are canceled or "significantly" delayed, airlines have to issue your refund in the same way you paid. So, if you paid cash, you get cashback and can say NO to a voucher.

The gray area is when you have to stay an extra night in a hotel because your original flight is delayed or canceled. Are you entitled to reimbursement? That comes down to the actual airline. The DOT guidelines only state the flight itself must be refunded not added expenses; however, an airline may have an amount outlined in their terms and conditions.

For example - American Airlines just changed their terms and conditions saying they may reimburse you for a hotel expense, but it's not guaranteed. They also added wording, so you must have written approval from AA prior to booking the hotel to have the expense covered.

Scott Keyes, the founder of says the best way to get what you want is kindness.

He says you can also try two things if you hit a delay while traveling. The first is checking to see if another airline is flying to your destination or the second, see if your airline or another is flying to an airport near your destination. If so, you can request your airline to get you on that flight or get you a refund to do it yourself.