0 min left

Wait Before Canceling Your Flight


Was your flight canceled by the coronavirus outbreak? Airlines have made it easy to get a voucher for your canceled flight. But, warn the very frequent fliers on FlyerTalk, by doing that, you could be disqualifying yourself from a cash refund. 

Need more advice or have a question about flight cancellations and refunds? Head to this forum thread.

Vouchers Limit Your Options

If your flight has been disrupted, it may seem easier to cancel the flight yourself, accept a voucher and hope that travel picks back up before it expires in one year. But, vouchers limit your options. Once you accept one, you are disqualified from getting a cash refund.

Why opt for cash instead of a refund? With the future of airline operations in question, cash in hand now is more valuable for most fliers than a voucher for travel at an undeterminable point in the future. 

Related: I Already Got a Flight Voucher. Is It Too Late to Ask for a Cash Refund?

The Law Is on Your Side

On Friday, April 3, the United States Department of Transportation made it clear, in a public enforcement notice that–when an airline cancels a passenger’s flight–the airline must give the passenger a cash refund, not a flight voucher, if they request it. The EU, just a few days prior, reiterated its policy via EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean:
“Airlines must refund canceled flight tickets. They can of course also offer a voucher but — and this is very important — only if the customer agrees to accept this.”
Furthermore, the Points Guy is reporting that airlines “have been told to contact customers who have been given vouchers for canceled flights to let them know they have an option for a refund.” However, as of this publication date, we haven’t heard much evidence of this happening to customers (if you’ve been contacted, please let us know!).

How to Get Cash for Your Canceled Flight

To avoid getting stuck with a voucher, the very frequent fliers in the FlyerTalk forum advise that you wait it out. One said,

“Don’t cancel, let the airline cancel the flights, then you can demand a refund. With the current coronavirus crisis, most flights will be canceled or incur significant schedule changes that qualify for a full refund.”

Another explained how the waiting game has worked out for them:

“This is exactly what I am doing, waiting out the airlines. When this began I had 8 non-refundable tickets across American Airlines, United Airlines, Swiss International, Turkish Airlines, KLM, and EasyJet. At the beginning, none of the airlines would give a refund, only vouchers. Now a couple of weeks later I have recovered about $3000 as airlines cancel flights and adjust their schedules.”

What If My Flight Isn’t Canceled?

The one con of waiting out the airlines is if the carrier does not end up canceling the flight. At this point, if you do not wish to fly, your options are to rebook travel for a later date or take the voucher. In some cases, your credit card company may be able to help you out and reimburse your flight, but it is not guaranteed.

FlyNFoole April 29, 2020

I have had success contacting airlines in Europe through Facebook Messenger and firmly requesting a refund. They offered to rebook me, then offered a voucher, but I politely requested a full refund while mentioning EU Commission Article 5 (which mandates refunds regardless of the cause). Result: CC credited with full amounts within 7 days. Good luck!

chadbag April 23, 2020

Yeah I have a flight on Air France on June 3. Waiting it out as I have no use for a voucher. This was a one-time special event trip. They claim their voucher can also be used on Delta, but except for a trip to Japan I hope we can do at Christmas, we won't be doing much travel for a while. And I don't really want to fly Delta to Japan. Flying ANA or JAL or Singapore is much nicer and can be done on a code-share when United or AA (for the first two) have a sale.

bluemarble April 23, 2020

The problem with all of this is that if the carrier goes bankrupt, the voucher likely has a 0 value. True "flag" carriers, like Air France / KLM, or Lufthansa, or British Airways, are likely to be "saved" one way or another, even if the equity of current shareholders is wiped out. The most likely method will be stock issues, subscribed by governments at bargain basement prices, with the government winding up as a majority stakeholder, and then selling off its share in two years when people are flying again. So, if your voucher is with one of those, it will probably be useable. If your voucher is with a "big 3" American carrier, the question is whether or not they will be considered "too big to fail." Because fail they will, unless the taxpayers bail them out... Bottom line: get cash if you can. But, as several commentators remarked, the cash boxes of the smaller carriers are empty, and the bigger ones may make you sue for it... The name of the game right now is "conserve cash."

allenaustralia April 23, 2020

If you pay for something and the service/product not delivered you should automatically receive a refund. What is wrong with people saying otherwise.

flpab April 22, 2020

Virgin Atlantic is still showing my May flight as being on time. Waiting it out.