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2 Simple Tips for Getting a Refund When the Airline Only Offers a Credit

This post originally appeared on Sign up for the Johnny Jet Daily Travel Tip newsletter here for more.

Most of the questions I’ve been getting from readers lately concern how to get refunded for a canceled flight. As you may know by now, some of the U.S. airlines had been until recently playing games with passengers (ahem, United and JetBlue). The Department of Transportation (DOT) received so many complaints that it had to come out with an enforcement notice. If your canceled flight was operated by a U.S. carrier, the DOT notice applies to you.

In fact, if your flight was supposed to fly to, from, or within the U.S., it doesn’t matter where the operating airline is based: If it canceled your flight, it needs to give you a full refund, according to the DOT.

But what about flights within Europe? Reader Simon L. asked this question on our “A Trick to Get Your Money Back From Airlines That Canceled Your Flight” post:

“What is the situation with dealing with European airlines? We had one-way tickets from Dubrovnik to London Gatwick with EasyJet for early April. The flight has been canceled. I have requested a full refund from EasyJet citing European regulation 261 but on their website, they are saying they are giving credits only. The tickets were purchased more than 60 days ago so disputing the charge with my CC probably won’t work and, at this point, a voucher is not going to do much good if we don’t get back to Europe this year. Any suggestions?”

Can you get refunded for a canceled European flight? I have to say that I wasn’t 100-percent sure of the answer, so I went searching. I found that the latest on this question—how to get refunded for a canceled European flight—is encouraging.

As written in a recent Reuters story: “Airlines must reimburse customers for flights cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union transport chief said on Wednesday, rejecting calls by carriers to relax EU rules and allow an EU-wide waiver of refund obligations.”

It seems that the airlines are concerned that issuing so many refunds will drain them of money. For now, that isn’t enough to get them out of their obligation to refund (not issue credits to) passengers on flights that have been canceled due to the COVID-19 situation.

Have you tried to get refunded for a canceled European flight? Did the airline give you a hard time? Here’s’s previous advice on pressing for a refund:

  1. If an airline cancels your flight, tries to give you a credit, and refuses to give you a refund, ask to speak to a supervisor. Read them this line on your rights from the DOT: “If your flight is canceled and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation–even for non-refundable tickets. You are also entitled to a refund for any bag fee that you paid, and any extras you may have purchased, such as a seat assignment.”
  2. If the representative still won’t budge, you can hang up and call your credit card company as long as you purchased your flight in the last 60 days. As Joe Brancatelli, a veteran business-travel expert, recently tweeted: “Credit cards WILL process refunds. Airline rules and DOT boilerplate are irrelevant now.”

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