The best way to get a refund from an airline who’s canceled a flight on you is to protect yourself at purchase. There are however other ways you can get your money back, even if you haven’t taken some airfare precautions. With flight cancellations being so common lately and the airlines adapting their policies to let themselves off the hook, here’s how you can get a refund for a canceled flight from any airline.

Protecting Your Purchase

Before booking plane tickets you should know that the airlines in general have changed their policies to make re-booking easier in the event they cancel but refunds more difficult. That’s great if you know you’re going to take a trip regardless of a delay but sometimes once a flight is canceled so is that trip. You’d like to get your money back but the airline policies usually won’t help you.

But there is one area where airline policies could still be on your side: frequent flyer miles. Assuming you have enough miles for a given flight, using them to book airfare can protect your wallet against cancellations. Most of the major mileage programs you should be using have different refund policies than regular airfare purchases meaning if an airline cancels a flight, typically they refund your miles back within 30 days.

In case you don’t have quite enough miles for a given flight, if you’re close, consider purchasing the remaining amount. Typically that’s not a good deal but if it’s only a few miles, consider it insurance against losing your entire airfare.

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Get Travel Insurance

As the airlines have adapted to an increasing number of flight cancellations, so have insurance companies. Using the insurance aggregator SquareMouth you can search through policies and filter by cancellation refunds (in the case of Covid or otherwise). Once you’ve narrowed down your choices you can choose the coverage that works best for you. An obvious bonus is that you now have travel insurance too if your trip does go as planned.


Check Your Credit Card

Many of you might be relying on protections your credit card might come with if you purchase airfare. Most people though don’t check what those policies are and end up losing money when a flight doesn’t happen. Always verify with your credit card company if you’re going to rely on it for insurance but if a flight is canceled you might be able to dispute the charge. This doesn’t always work and often has to be done within 30 days of the original purchase but something to consider if you don’t have other options.

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Keep in mind though your chances of success will be much higher if you call your credit card company rather than using their online tool. It might be more time consuming but could make the difference for you successful dispute.