Can You Get A Refund For Flight Cancellations Due To COVID-19?
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8th Dec | 2 min read

The US Department of Transportation’s Aviation Enforcement Unit released a notice stating that airlines will have to issue a refund for flights cancelled due to Coronavirus. The notice also states that The DOT has been receiving a huge amount of complaints from the public that they are unable to get refunds from the airlines. Instead, they are receiving vouchers or credits for future travel that are not readily available.

The notice is a reminder to US and foreign carriers that have a 30 or more seat capacity that airlines have to refund customers promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. 

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The EU has also published a similar guideline explaining how passenger rights legislation apply in case of the COVID -19 pandemic, specially with cancelled and delayed flights. When the flight is cancelled by the airline, a passenger has the right to reimbursement or rerouting. 

Although, if passengers themselves decide to cancel trips or not fly, those cases are not addressed by the EU’s passenger rights regulation. The reimbursement for these cases depend on the type of ticket per the airline’s terms and conditions. Some countries also issued national rules for the COVID-19 outbreak which obligates the airline carriers to refund customers or issue vouchers, in case the passenger could not take an operated flight. These rules do not fall under EU’s passenger rights legislation as they are not adopted by the Union. 

The guideline explicitly states one thing that if a flight has been cancelled by the airline no matter what the cause is, the passengers have all the right to ask for their money back if they want to. 

However, the notice also talks about cancellation caused by extraordinary circumstances. We have taken the following paragraphs directly from the notice.

“The Commission considers that, where public authorities take measures intended to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, such measures are by their nature and origin not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of carriers and are outside their actual control. 

Article 5(3) waives the right to compensation on condition that the cancellation in question “is caused” by extraordinary circumstances, which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. 

This condition should be considered fulfilled, where public authorities either outright prohibit certain flights or ban the movement of persons in a manner that excludes, de facto, the flight in question to be operated. 

This condition may also be fulfilled, where the flight cancellation occurs in circumstances where the corresponding movement of persons is not entirely prohibited, but limited to persons benefiting from derogations (for example nationals or residents of the state concerned).”

We understand that a lot of travelers may be facing issues with flight refunds. We wanted to create this piece in form travelers based on the documentation released by the proper authorities.

If you have questions or have COVID-19 travel stories to share, feel free to email us at

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