If your flight is canceled or significantly delayed, you most likely don’t want a refund. You probably just want to get where you were going as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, Frontier is one of four of the 10 largest airlines that hasn’t agreed to rebook passengers on a partner airline or another airline with which it has an agreement, at no additional cost. And that’s even if the cancellation or delay was Frontier’s fault. Here’s a chart showing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT’s) commitments from the top 10 airlines in cases of controllable cancellations or delays.
But you can still ask to be rebooked, if you want to be. Airlines don’t have to do this, but many will, if you ask.
To make matters worse, Frontier is one of a half-dozen airlines that DOT fined in November for taking too long or refusing to issue refunds. Frontier was the only U.S. airline. The refunds involved flights that had been canceled or significantly delayed or changed, many dating back to 2020.
What to do if your flight has been canceled or significantly delayed and you want a refund?
- Don’t accept a credit or a voucher if you really want a refund.
- Know that it doesn’t matter why the flight was canceled, whether it was bad weather, staffing, equipment or whatever. If the flight was canceled, you’re owed a full refund, even if you bought a non-refundable ticket.
- Be nice. No matter what happens, the person you’re dealing with probably didn’t cause your problem, but they might be able to help you fix it. Plus, it’s always a good idea to be nice.
- If the airline resists, tell them you know you are legally entitled to a full refund. The law says you can’t be forced to accept a credit or voucher instead of all of your money back, including baggage fees, seat selection fees, taxes, etc.
- The airline must issue the refund within seven days if you paid by credit card, and within 20 days if you paid by check or cash.
You also are entitled to a refund in other circumstances, if:
- The airline made a significant schedule change or incurred a significant flight delay. To this point, DOT hasn’t specifically said what qualifies as “significant.” But new rules under consideration would characterize this as delays of three hours or more.
- You were moved involuntarily to a lower class of service, meaning if your first-class ticket was downgraded to economy class. In this circumstance, you’d be entitled to the difference between the two ticket prices.
- You paid for a service such as seat upgrades or in-flight WiFi and weren’t able to use it because of a cancellation, delay, schedule change or if you were denied boarding because the flight was overbooked.
- You paid to check a bag and it was lost.
What to do if the airline still refuses your refund?
- If after all of this, the airline still refuses to refund you, or it’s been longer than the seven-day/20-day deadlines, then immediately dispute the charge with your credit card issuer. You have a right to a refund because the flight was a service you paid for but didn’t get, through no fault of your own.
You must file this dispute with your card issuer within 60 days after the statement containing the airline charges. It’s generally easy to dispute a charge electronically with your bank. Make sure you get confirmation your dispute has been received. If disputing by mail, It’s a good idea to send it certified. The card issuer must acknowledge your dispute within 30 days and resolve it within 90 days. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has more on exercising your right to dispute charges.
- In addition, file a complaint with the DOT. Don’t wait for the credit card dispute process to play out.
The Plane Truth on refund complaints
Frontier was one of three airlines with more than 1,000 refund complaints filed against it last year. The other two with more than 1,000 refund complaints were United and American, which had four to six times more passengers.
Among the others among the big four, Delta and Southwest had about 600 and 900 refund complaints, respectively.
Frontier had 2.9% of all boarded passengers last year but nearly 13% of refund complaints.
PIRG for years has been standing up for passengers’ rights by advocating for stronger consumer protections, exposing practices that harm consumers, holding regulators accountable for enforcement and offering travelers tips and information about their rights.
Travelers need more protections when flights are canceled
The Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to do more to put a stop to bad airline behavior.