Are you entitled to a refund if your airline rebooks you on a partner airline?
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Each Friday, we feature a reader-inspired tip as our Travel Tip of the Day. With many people still dealing with disrupted travel plans (see the latest COVID-19 news here), this week’s reader tip comes from Sandy M., who wrote in to ask me about your rights as a passenger if your airline doesn’t cancel your flight and instead rebooks you with a partner airline:

“I’ve been reading with interest your posts about airline cancellations. If the airline rebooks you on a partner airline (United to Lufthansa) is that considered a cancellation which would entitle you to a refund? It’s a different routing and a more than six-hour delay.”

As I wrote back to Sandy, the answer—at least during the COVID-19 pandemic—is yes! That’s a “significant schedule change” that entitles her to a refund per DOT rules, which frustratingly some airlines still aren’t following (I’m battling with Air Canada right now). The length of the delay is critical. If your airline rebooks you on a flight that departs at the same time as your original flight, the DOT rules likely wouldn’t help you.

At the end of our exchange, with an update on her situation, Sandy offered a good reminder for anyone looking to get a refund for a flight:

“Thanks. Just talked to a very nice person at United and am getting refund. You might also want to mention to your readers that if they purchased travel insurance for their now cancelled flight through the carrier they may get a refund for that premium as well. I just submitted a claim to Travel Guard (after being advised by United to do so) and they are processing it. We’ll see if the refund(s) show up any time soon.”

A great tip. Thanks, Sandy!

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4 Comments On "Are You Entitled to a Refund If Your Airline Rebooks You on a Partner Airline?"
  1. Sandy|

    My update…Travel Guard has refunded the insurance premium.

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      Awesome!

  2. Tony|

    Hi Johnny. You can choose to ignore this as it has to do with cruise travel refund. Similar vein but…
    Wife and I were booked for a cruise leaving on Royal Caribbean in latter September from NYC area to eventually Montreal. Booked it through Costco travel as they offer some incredible deals in my opinion when I use the Costco card. (Please note not an advt.) At any rate, it really did not appear that the cruise with hanging out in NYC for a few days prior to sailing and then a few days after in Montreal was going to be happening the way we wanted. I called Costco Travel (was told hold would be 30 minutes / turned out to be less than five) and asked some questions. They then offered to cancel – GREAT agent – she handled and explained we would get a full CC refund except for $500 credit to a future cruise. While that might not work for some, it was excellent for us as we like RCC and sail with them a couple of times a year. I was surprised that we could not apply the credit to a Celebrity Cruise – sister of RCC – but oh well. Mostly wanted to say the folk at Costco went above and beyond taking care of this for us. Yes, I am awaiting refunds but I just did this a few days ago and was told about 45 days to process with RCC. Already got email confirmation from Costco Travel confirming details.

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      Good info! Thank you

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