Can I Get a Refund If I Have a Doctor's Note?

Airfare Question of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 13, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Airfare Question of the Month, Jessica Labrencis.

Dear Jessica,

If I have to cancel a flight because of a personal sickness and I have a statement as such from my doctor, am I eligible to receive a refund? If not, how about a credit for another flight to a different location?


Dear M.G.,

"Compassionate" isn't usually a word that comes to mind when thinking about the airlines these days. But in the case of illness, many airlines are more understanding than you might expect.


I checked with representatives from many of the major low-cost and legacy airlines, and nearly without exception, airlines will offer at minimum a credit for a future flight. If you can produce a doctor's note as evidence of a legitimate illness, some airlines will waive their change fees and/or offer you a full refund. Of course, with most policies, it varies on a case-by-case basis.

When faced with the prospect of canceling a trip due to illness, I suggest calling the airline and asking what it would be willing to do in your specific situation. Be sure to mention that you have a doctor's note. If you don't anticipate being medically able to fly in the near future, push for a refund, or for a credit that can be transferred to another person. After all, it never hurts to ask.

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