Welcome to Sneaky Airways. Don’t enjoy your flight.
The federal government just fined six airlines a record-breaking $7.25 million for slow-walking refunds they owe to passengers because flights got canceled or delayed. All together, these airlines still owe customers an eye-popping $600 million.
The past few years have brought extreme turbulence to the airline industry. Since the COVID pandemic started, thousands and thousands of flights have been canceled, lots of them at the last minute.
If your flight gets canceled or significantly delayed, the airline is supposed to offer you a refund. But they won’t always tell you that. Then they’re supposed to actually follow through and pay you that refund. But it turns out, that doesn’t always happen.
“When a flight gets canceled, passengers seeking refunds should be paid back promptly,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department issued the fines. “A flight cancellation is frustrating enough, and you shouldn’t also have to haggle or wait months to get your refund.”
Trouble is, the rules governing flights and airlines can get complicated, and even frequent fliers don’t necessarily know all of them by heart. So we’re going to break down exactly what rules the airlines are required to follow if your flight is canceled or delayed, or if your flight is overbooked, or if your luggage gets lost.
We’ll also tell you how to put in a claim if an airline still owes you money.
Don’t wait until you’re stranded at the airport to know what your rights are.
Which Airlines Got Fined, and How Do You Get Compensation?
The US Department of Transportation is fining a half-dozen airlines a total of $7.25 million for what it calls “extreme delays in providing refunds.” The federal agency says it’s getting “a flood of complaints” about unpaid refunds. So far this year, it has dinged airlines for $8.1 million in civil penalties — the most ever.