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Can I get a refund if an airline changes my flight times?

Airfare Question of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 19, 2006. 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 Editor,

Can I get a refund if an airline changes my flight times after I've bought a ticket?

G.M.

Dear Reader,

Airlines are notoriously stingy with refunds, particularly if you purchased a non-refundable ticket. However, a refund may be possible, depending on your individual situation. Each airline handles it in a different way.

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Low-fare carrier AirTran, for example, will offer refunds in some situations, but only if the schedule change is a substantial adjustment. The airline makes refund decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Northwest has a more concrete policy. The airline will offer a refund to travelers whose flight times have been changed by more than 60 minutes. Delta will offer a refund if the flight times are more than 90 minutes from the originally scheduled flights. American, however, does not generally offer refunds. Its conditions of carriage state "American is not responsible for or liable for failure to make connections, or to operate any flight according to schedule, or for a change to the schedule of any flight." According to an American spokesman, the airline will attempt to accommodate passengers on a flight with a more acceptable time, but only offers refunds to travelers with refundable tickets.

In general, if an airline changes your itinerary, you may be eligible for a refund. But, as with most airline policies, you'll have to contact your airline regarding your specific situation. If your airline does change your itinerary after you book, remember to make sure your new itinerary leaves you enough time to catch any connecting flights.

 
 
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