Travel Insurance

How Do Airline Cancelation & Delay Policies Work?

How Do Airline Cancelation & Delay Policies Work?

You may have heard about the airline compensation plan proposed by President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. This proposed new rule aims to address carrier-caused slowdowns and ensure that passengers receive appropriate compensation.

Under this plan, airlines would be obligated to shoulder specific expenses on behalf of affected passengers, while also providing compensation for the inconvenience caused by flight delays and cancellations. This initiative not only seeks to prioritize the well-being of travelers but also reinforces the government’s dedication to fostering a more customer-centric airline industry.

There is currently no timeline for if or when these proposed changes may take effect so let’s take a look at what kind of compensation you can expect from your airline and then take a closer look at what the U.S. government’s proposal would mean for travelers like you.

Will I Get a Refund for My Canceled Flight?

You may be entitled to some or all of the ticket price if you are unable to travel due to circumstances deemed acceptable by the carrier or ticket agent. This could be related to communicable disease or natural disaster

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing that it is “an unfair business practice for a U.S. air carrier, a foreign air carrier, or a ticket agent to refuse to provide requested refunds to consumers when a carrier has canceled or made a significant change to a scheduled flight to, from, or within the United States, and consumers found the alternative transportation offered by the carrier or the ticket agent to be unacceptable.” 

Although that sounds pretty straightforward, it’s not as simple as that. 

Under these circumstances those who have purchased non-refundable tickets could be provided with a non-expiring voucher or credit for use at a later, more convenient date. If you have a refundable ticket and don’t wish to continue with your travel plans, you should be able to get a full refund.

If the carrier or the ticket agent received any financial assistance from the government, your tickets should be refunded in total, no matter what type purchased. However, you may be required to provide proof that they did, in fact, receive assistance. 

What Rights Do I Have if My Flight is Delayed?

Airline carriers are not required to provide compensation for delayed flights. However, most offer reasonable accommodations or vouchers for travelers due to unforeseen circumstances. You can also ask to be rerouted to another airline if one is available, however they may not compensate you for any additional fees. Check with the ticket agent for options. 

If your flight has been delayed and you have to change your travel plans or miss other flights, the DOT has provided a new Airline Customer Service Dashboard that will quickly tell you what rights you have from your airline provider. The dashboard only addresses controllable cancellations or delays. These are mechanical issues, staffing shortages, or delays in restocking supplies, inspections, fueling, or baggage handling. Delays or cancellations caused by weather or security concerns are not included, nor do they count.

The dashboard chart below will take you through what each airline is committed to offering customers should their flights be delayed or canceled. This list may change depending on the circumstances, so always check with your carrier first.

U.S. Department of Transportation Airline Customer Service Dashboard Screenshot

Does Trip Insurance for Flights Cover Cancellations or Delays?

Anything that is caused by the airline itself would not be covered by a trip insurance cancellation policy unless the airline failed to offer any kind of compensation. Airline carriers are responsible for any costs listed in the dashboard. 

If the airline carrier does not provide any kind of assistance or compensation, you may be able to check your trip insurance policy to see if there are any options available. A policy that offers Cancel for Any Reason flight insurance can help you at least recoup a majority of your nonrefundable eligible costs in the event of a cancellation or delay. Read more about how trip cancellation insurance covers unforeseen events here

What Biden/Buttigieg’s Airline Compensation Proposal Would Mean for Travelers

The proposed rule brings forth transformative changes that would no longer burden travelers with the financial consequences of airline disruptions. Under the proposed rule, passengers would be entitled to both practical assistance and monetary compensation when airlines are accountable for cancellations or delays lasting three hours or more. It goes beyond mere rebooking or ticket refunds, as carriers would be required to shoulder additional expenses incurred by travelers, including accommodations, meals, and ground transportation. Furthermore, individuals inconvenienced by these setbacks would have the right to receive compensation in various forms such as cash, miles, or travel vouchers.The proposed plan would also establish a clear definition of “controllable cancellation and delay,” making it more challenging for airlines to evade responsibility and accountability.

Again, the Biden/Buttigieg airline compensation plan has not been put into effect. The changes mentioned above are only proposed. You can stay updated by visiting the Department of Transportation’s site.   

Contact Our Customer Service Team for More Information 

If you Even if these proposed changes do take effect, you can count on travel insurance to offer coverage when the airline doesn’t offer compensation. If you need help deciding on what travel insurance coverage plan is right for you, or you just have a question about travel insurance plans in general, VisitorsCoverage’s customer success team of licensed travel insurance experts is happy to help.