Airline cancel or delay your flight? Here's what airlines owe you (and how to get it)

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Yahoo! Voices 08 August, 2021 - 01:46pm 27 views

Does Spirit Airlines give refunds?

We do not offer refundable fares – it helps us to keep prices low for all of our passengers. But you can change or cancel a reservation anytime via the My Trips tab on Spirit.com. spirit.comDoes Spirit offer refundable fares? · Spirit Support

Airline cancel or delay your flight? Here's what airlines owe you (and how to get it)

USA TODAY 08 August, 2021 - 01:46pm

Beyond snaking lines at the airport and hard-to-reach call centers, a hallmark of summer travel in 2021, complaints on social media centered on what some travelers saw as major injustices: lack of meal vouchers or hotel accommodations, a runaround for refunds and no compensation for expenses caused by a lost vacation or workday.

Airlines are assailed with complaints every time there is a spike in flight cancellations and delays, and every time, too many passengers are left bewildered, unsatisfied or even fuming at airlines' responses.

@SpiritAirlines flight delayed 5 hours then cancelled. Hundreds stranded in Las Vegas. No hotel accommodations, they are rebooking for next week. I had to pay 600 to rebook on another airline. Thanks for the "savings"

— PerfectLevel (@level_perfect) August 2, 2021

Yes, canc’d 4 hrs before boarding, no option to leave later, AND please fill out 3 separate refund claims for ticket, seat, and luggage-they would hate to assume you want your money back when you pay for services you don’t receive. At least they’re consistent. Consistently bad!

— Jen (@Jen65209400) August 3, 2021

Porn star Stormy Daniels even weighed in on Twitter on behalf of her brother, whose American Airlines flight to Dallas was diverted to Oklahoma City due to severe storms on Sunday.

After being diverted to OKC, my brother (and rest of the passengers) SAT ON THE PLANE for 12 hrs with NO food & no explanation!Flight finally made it to DFW to find not a single employee working. No idea of where bags are or how to get to his final destination. WTF @AmericanAir pic.twitter.com/0EYd9hTocC

— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) August 2, 2021

There is a disconnect between what passengers think they are owed and what airlines owe them when flights plans go haywire thanks to a patchwork of federal regulations and airline policies.

Some rules, like those covering refunds for cancellations and significant flight delays by the airline, are dictated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Others, like hotel and meal vouchers and expense reimbursement, are up to individual airline policies spelled out in dozens of pages of legalese known as a contract of carriage. Spirit's is 54 pages.

"In Europe it's uniform. In Canada it's uniform. In the United States, you are at the mercy of the contract of carriage,'' said William McGee, an aviation adviser to Consumer Reports who has been pushing for an air passenger bill of rights for years and last week joined other consumer advocates in taking their case to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "In the past 20 years, those contracts have gotten much harder to read, they've gotten lengthier, and they've gotten much weaker from a consumer standpoint.''

What's a stranded traveler to do? Know your rights and persistently pursue them, including taking airlines to task on social media.

This one is crystal clear. Airlines are required by the DOT to offer a refund when they cancel a flight. It doesn't matter if the reason for the cancellation was outside their control, like weather, or within their control, like maintenance issues or flight crew shortages. And it doesn't matter what kind of ticket you bought, including nonrefundable tickets or basic economy tickets.

Airlines prefer, of course, to automatically rebook you on their next available flight, but you are under no obligation to take it. Keep in mind, though, that a refund a) might not be instant and b) probably won't cover the cost of a new last-minute ticket unless your original ticket was pricey, so the next-available flight might be the least-expensive option for getting to your destination or back home when things go awry last minute.

If you opt for a refund, you are eligible to get your money back, not just a travel credit or voucher. Airlines are quickest to offer those, so travelers who want their money back instead often have to take some extra steps. Southwest and Delta, for example, automatically issue travel credit, so travelers who want their money back have to request it.

@SpiritAirlines canceled my flight with 4 hours notice. In the announcement: They gave me no guarantee that they would refund my ticket. Unbelievable.

— Joseph Timian (@jb_tinman) August 3, 2021

The same DOT rules apply to significant delays, meaning passengers are eligible for a refund regardless of the cause of the airline's delay. The only wrinkle here is that airlines' definitions of "significant delay" vary. American offers refunds for delays exceeding 90 minutes, Delta, Spirit and Alaska two hours, for example.

Here's where things get trickier and involve those contracts of carriage. Airline policies generally state that they only pay for a hotel if the flight cancellation or overnight delay is their fault, and then only if you don't live in the city you're stranded in. The earlier you request one, the better, as airport hotels sell out quickly when there's flight cancellation mayhem.

Weather, of course, and air traffic control issues are outside of airlines' control, so passengers whose flights are scrubbed for those reasons generally aren't given free hotel stays. (Many airlines do offer discounted hotel rates for those impacted by weather cancellations, so be sure to ask.)

How do you know the reason for your cancellation? Airlines don't always announce a reason or keep changing their story as the situation unfolds.

"I think passengers, quite frankly, have a right to be suspicious,'' McGee said. "Airlines are not forthcoming on a lot of issues like this.''

At the same time, the former airline flight dispatcher says passengers often don't understand how weather across the country can have a ripple effect on an airline.

So airlines have the upper hand if they say weather or other factors out of their control are to blame. But savvy travelers should jot down gate announcements or conversations with employees about the reasons for the delay as well as screenshot any alerts sent about the delay via text or the airline's mobile app to plead their case for reimbursement if the airline denies hotel accommodations due to weather.

Stranded passengers are free to check options on other airlines, but whether the airline that canceled the original flight picks up the tab is another question.

Most major airlines, with the notable exception of Southwest, have so-called interline agreements with competitors so they can easily transfer passengers over when they don't have room. But airlines prefer to keep travelers on their flights, so the option isn't usually offered upfront unless you have elite status in their frequent flyer program and press the matter.

Spirit and other budget carriers don't have interline agreements. Spirit's contract of carriage states: "With limited exceptions, Spirit will not reimburse guests for flights that they book on other carriers.''

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Air travel hits another pandemic high as airlines scramble to keep up with summer crowds

CBS17.com 04 August, 2021 - 03:16pm

As a result, airlines are scrambling to keep up with the summer vacation crowds and that’s forcing many flights to be being canceled or changed in record numbers. 

Some experts believe the changes and cancellations are going to continue for a while because airlines are overwhelmed. 

Air travel is taking off. Travel Pulse said in May of 2021, 56.5 Million more people flew compared to the same month last year. That’s a 600 percent increase. 

Although more flights are being booked, an increasing number of travelers are finding their flight times changing after they’re booked–sometimes while they’re at the airport waiting to board. 

Changed flights aren’t the only problem. Cancellations are wreaking havoc with airline schedules. 

On Tuesday, American Airlines canceled 284 flights or 9 percent of its schedule and for the 3rd day in a row, Spirit Airlines canceled scores of flights. 

On Wednesday, Spirit canceled 60 percent of its flights, according to FlightAware.

Spirit blames “operational challenges” and is advising customers on its Twitter and website “to check fight status before going to the airport.” 

It’s not just those two carriers experiencing problems with delays and cancellations. 

All airlines have thousands of fewer workers than they did before the pandemic.   

In the last few weeks, many airlines have been caught short-staffed, even though they received $54 billion in taxpayer money to keep employees on the payroll. 

One of the reasons for short-staffing involves flight crews. Many crews have reached maximum work hours and there are no reserve crews available to fill in. 

The U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee wants to investigate how airlines managed their workforces considering what’s happening in the industry right now. 

There’s also worry about whether the delta variant will affect the leisure travel industry as cases continue to explode. 

As of Wednesday, airline officials say they have yet to see bookings suffer because of the delta variant. 

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