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Refunds--cash or voucher--which will I get?

We have been on this subject all over this board so I thought I would start its own thread.

When will you get cash? When will you get a voucher?

Let's talk cash. If the airline cancels your flight or they move you to an alternate that delays more than a certain time (example for Delta its 90 minutes) you are entitled to a cash refund. More than likely you will have to call. No emailing.

Let's talk voucher. If YOU cancel the flight and it's a non-refundable ticket then it is a non-refundable ticket. Because of the current unusual circumstances, airlines are allowing passengers who want to cancel their flights within a certain time frame to receive a voucher towards a future flight. You probably won't have to call and can get this done online.

It's very simple....if the airline cancels or changes your flights by a certain time frame you get cash. If YOU cancel for whatever reason you get a voucher.


1) Rick Steves canceled my tour shoudn't I get a cash refund from the airline? No. They have nothing to do with each other.

2) I have a flight in December shoudn't I get a voucher? least not yet. Vouchers are onlly being offered for about a two month window depending on the airline.

3) My flight is operating but the country I'm flying to won't let me in? That's tricky and you might have to settle for a voucher if your flight is operating. It may be up to the agent you deal with.

If you want to cancel a flight, it must be done before the initial flight departs. If not, you will be considered a no-show and will get nothing. More than likely, it can be done online.

By the way, when I say "cash" I don't actually mean cash. Your refund will go back to your original method of payment. If you paid with a credit card, it will be returned to your credit card. I use "cash" just to show the difference from a voucher. noted by Allan below, Canada now allows airlines to give vouchers alone and does not require cash refunds. But it's not straighforward. I refer you to this article for more information:

Posted by
1401 posts

Not all countries have to provide refunds for cancelled flights, the Canadian Transport Agency has ruled that Canadian airlines can issue vouchers.

Posted by
8785 posts

Allan--thanks for the info. I wasn't aware of that. I have added it to the original posting because some posters don't read the respones before responding.

Posted by
2113 posts

The Delta Process for Refunds

I talked to a Delta agent this week regarding two non-refundable tickets. The agent professed not to know the algorithm but stated that when the agent indicates a customer wants a refund in the system, the system sometimes grants it immediately but other times requires "the long form" to be completed and sent to the Passenger Refunds Department to determine eligibility.

I am Diamond Medallion with Delta and called the Diamond Medallion line. I was connected to an agent immediately. For both tickets, I started the conversation with "I would like a refund on this ticket because a flight or flights on the itinerary were cancelled ...."

Ticket #1 was for a first-class domestic itinerary; the first flight commenced within 72 hours of the call. Original flights were cancelled. The new itinerary had an arrival time greater than 3 hours after the previous arrival time. The computer said... fill out the long form.

Ticket #2 was a business-class ticket to a non-hub European city; the first flight commenced in 3 weeks. The carrier running the flight from the European hub to the European destination cancelled my late afternoon flight and is now running just one flight per day in the morning. My arrival time at the hub was 3 hours after the departure of my connecting flight. The computer said... fill out the long form.

The follow up e-mail said the Passenger Refund Department tries to make decisions in 7 days but is taking up to 21 days with current volumes. It also stated that if a refund is granted and credited to a credit card, it generally takes 2 billing cycles to post.

Posted by
8785 posts

Sorry to hear that. My experience with Delta was just the opposite a week ago. I had three flights to cancel. The first a domestic round trip. The flights had been changed a few times but since I was canceling I only expected a voucher. The agent said the fights had changed more than 90 minutes and I could get a refund. The third flight, a domestic one way, had been changed but less than 90 minutes. The agent I spoke to told me that but said it was close enough so she was going to give me a refund. Both came through in a couple of days. And all three were in domestic first. I am not a high tier Delta FF.

I wonder if the stricter rules on refunds has to do with cash issues? Or were too many agents issuing refunds when they should have been giving vouchers?

The airline is probably trying to hold on to cash as long as possible.

Posted by
2860 posts

More than likely you will have to call. No emailing.

You can use Twitter, @Delta, for refunds.

It also stated that if a refund is granted and credited to a credit card, it generally takes 2 billing cycles to post.

I got this also, but the refund was credited the next day.

Posted by
2854 posts

The OP's explanation is in line with what the Lufthansa policy is, and what I experienced. However:

If you want to cancel a flight, it must be done before the initial flight departs. If not, you will be considered a no-show and will get nothing.

That was their original policy, but they changed it a couple of weeks ago. Maybe other airlines are still following that policy.

Posted by
4244 posts

Frank II, thanks for this thread. Once again, I applaud your straightforward, sensible information.

And thank to the other folks for updating various airlines' practices. Obviously, policies are changing.

As I have posted elsewhere, I was able to get a refund from British Air with a 10 minute phone call. It was for nonrefundable tickets that they had cancelled. It did take several tries to get through, but once I did, the process was simple. And the staffer offered me the refund as soon as I said our flight had been cancelled; that was before she checked to see if the original purchase was refundable or not, or when our flight was scheduled, or what class we were flying.

Had we been certain that we would be flying within a year, we would have taken the voucher, which we could have done online. Note also that some airlines, Delta and United - maybe some others by now - are offering vouchers good for two years, not just one.

Posted by
1045 posts

“Not all countries have to provide refunds for cancelled flights, the Canadian Transport Agency has ruled that Canadian airlines can issue vouchers.” - Allan, this looks like it may not have any legal standing.

Not a definitive or legal statement from the CTA:
“While any specific situation brought before the CTA will be examined on its merits, the CTA believes that, generally speaking, an appropriate approach in the current context could be for airlines to provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future travel, as long as these vouchers or credits do not expire in an unreasonably short period of time (24 months would be considered reasonable in most cases).”

Legal challenges have already started, and have been succesful in the past:

Gabor Lukacs is the spearhead behind this petition, if you want to sign up:

He also has his own website, which may be down temporarily:

Personally, I can live with a 12 or 24 month voucher, travelling to the same location, as long as it does not involve an increase in tariff. I know that’s not going to happen, prices for my intended destination are already much higher than usual for the early part of next year.

Posted by
272 posts

Another problem with a refund voucher is that some of us more elderly folks may become immobile ( or even pass ) within the next 12 or 24 months... and vouchers are not accepted as legal payment for tuition at most of my grandchildren's universities...

Posted by
2113 posts

Dave's Delta Process, Part 2

So, I got notification of only one refund request from Delta via e-mail. Wednesday night's agent seemed to have trouble getting the second one processed on the phone. So, I called the Diamond Medallion line again tonight. Tonight's agent checked on refund #2. The refund request was never made (though the reservation was canceled). I told the agent that I'm on a travel blog, and 3 people (this post from today, too) mentioned that they were notified that they would receive a refund on their initial call; they were not told that the request would be sent to the refund department for a review of the refund. Tonight's agent told me that I would definitely get a refund, but all requests had to go through the refund department. That's not what my e-mail says. My e-mail says the following:

This is not a refund. [bolding in original e-mail] This is confirmation that a Refund has officially been requested and submitted
for review."

I feel like I got the classic, "Tell 'em whatever to get them off the phone and to move on to the next call."

So... my question for Tom and Frank... did you get a "Delta Refund Request Confirmation" e-mail with verbiage like that?

Posted by
98 posts

I wouldn't mind a voucher except in Lufthansa's case you must re-book by August 31st, 2020 and fly by December 31st 2020. That does nothing for me as my wife is a school nurse and we can only fly during summer.

Posted by
2860 posts

I got an email that was a receipt of refund confirmation request within hours after calling. The funds showed up about a week later.

The economy comfort purchased separately just showed up refunded 2 days after the canceled flight was supposed to go.

Posted by
8785 posts

I got a "Refund Confirmation" email while I was talking to the agent. It had my name, dollar amount, ticket number, flight information, etc.

This was on March 30. Things may have changed since then. The refund showed up a couple of days later while checking my credit card account. Some cards take longer than others to post. Mine was Amex.

It was not a request it was the actual confirmation.

Posted by
2113 posts

Dave's Delta Process Part 3

April 8: Requested refund for 1 domestic flight and 1 transatlantic flight as above; phone agent said both sent to the refund department -- 7-21 day wait for determination.

April 10: Called back because I only got notice on one of the flights being considered for a refund. Told by agent #2 that the first agent never completed the request for the transatlantic flight. Agent #2 completed request and gave me the 7-21 day talk. I asked her about three RS forum members getting immediate confirmation of refunds. She said they were mistaken; every refund went to the refund department and had to wait... the old, "Tell them anything to get them off the line" trick. I'm not a confrontational person, so I just let it go.

April 14 AM: Transatlantic flight refunded to my credit card. Nice. No notification from Delta, but that's okay if I get the refund. Still waiting to see what happens with the domestic flight.

April 14 PM: Received an e-mail at 4:10 pm indicating my Munich round trip flight in mid May was cancelled (this would be ticket #3) and my e-credit was being processed. Called again to request a refund on ticket #3. Was transferred directly to the refund department. On hold around 50 minutes (sent message on Twitter when put on hold... called ended before I heard anything on Twitter). Talked to agent who refunded ticket and said money would be back on card in 7 days.

Posted by
7018 posts

My Delta experience has been closer to Dave's because it's the return on a partially used ticket. My husband's miles were re-banked after two calls, but after 3 calls, I'm still waiting on the $ for my ticket. They did automatically issue me a voucher, so call number 2 was to insist on the funds instead. It's been 32 days since the first request.
And still waiting on business class Emirates tickets. They said it could take 90 days. It's been 38.

Posted by
613 posts

I finally received my refund from Delta. It's back in my credit card account.

My facts were as follows:

  1. Non-refundable RT ticket to Athens, via Amsterdam.
  2. On March 14, Delta cancelled my transatlantic leg to Amsterdam scheduled for March 21. No alternative booking was offered.
  3. On March 15, I went on the website to cancel the entire itinerary.
  4. On March 19, I contacted Delta by phone to check on refund status. Helpful agent said it was in process.
  5. About a week later, I called again to check on status and was told that since I cancelled, I would only get a credit. This despite the fact that Delta cancelled first.
  6. Soon after I received an email saying I was due a credit, not a refund.
  7. Meanwhile, the Delta Refund Status page said that my refund was still "Pending".
  8. On Monday, April 13, I got another email saying tough luck. Credit, not a refund,
  9. I responded to this email making clear that a credit was not acceptable and that under Federal law, Delta was obligated to provide a full refund since they had cancelled by transatlantic flight. I then got on the phone, prepared for another fight with a live body.
  10. While on hold (about 45 minutes or so), I received another email saying my refund request was granted.
  11. Got my refund in my account on April 14.

It may have been a coincidence, but I finally got satisfaction only when I told them that they were legally obligated to refund my money. Otherwise, we would probably still be playing the credit game. It seemed that, like others have indicated, Delta is not willingly providing the refunds they are legally obligated to provide. You're going to have to fight for it. I should note that I do not have any type of elite status on Delta in case that makes a difference. I fly steerage once or twice a year.

I sure hope they make good use of my public bailout money they are receiving. And to be clear, most of the bailout money is in the form of grants, not loans.

Posted by
2860 posts

Eric: I think it was a mistake to go onto the website and cancel, accepting the terms offered then. Better to just wait and get a full refund. I don't know for sure, though.

Posted by
613 posts

Delta cancelled first. That should matter and, ultimately, did.

Posted by
2860 posts

Delta cancelled first.

Not really, you canceled the rest of the itinerary and accepted terms for the yet uncanceled leg(s). If you had done nothing, you would just have received a refund on your credit card. I suspect this is what would have happened, anyway.

Posted by
613 posts

Both transatlantic legs were cancelled, one via direct email, the other via press release on Delta website.. No alternative routing was offered. That's sufficient to trigger the refund.

Had I done nothing, I would be sitting here with a credit I may or may not be able to use.

Oh, and praise be to Delta for waiving their exorbitant change fees for those stuck with a credit. So generous! Give them a medal.

Posted by
2113 posts


When you canceled online, was there ever an opportunity to ask specifically for a cash refund?

Delta is definitely pushing e-credits. When my entire itinerary to Munich was cancelled, the e-mail said, "We are processing your eCredit...." There was no mention of the option of a refund. Likewise, on the website, all verbiage is directed toward e-credits.

For me clicking on "Modify flight" and then the "Start Flight Cancellation" button took me to a screen with a "Request Refund" button, but I think Delta may be treating this as a "Request e-credit" button.

After poking around on the website a little via the search bar and a few extra clicks, I found the Cancel and Refund Application, which appears to be the correct form to request a cash refund for a flight cancellation. Contact through telephone or Twitter are probably better options.

I suspect you are thinking, IT SOULD NOT BE THAT HARD! I agree with you. It also is unfortunate that one must know what qualifies one for a cash refund because Delta certainly isn't going to offer one or even inform/educate consumers on this topic. When my itinerary was cancelled, I knew to call immediately to request a refund instead of accepting the e-credit. Most consumers don't know to do that, and Delta is counting on their ignorance with respect to this to allow them to hold onto the consumer's cash.

Posted by
2860 posts

Had I done nothing, I would be sitting here with a credit

I asked this on flyertalk (really the experts for this kind of thing) and they said I would just get a refund if I did nothing. I chose to call and ask for a refund which I was told immediately that I would get, no argument. It took a week to get the charge back on the card. The economy comfort part (purchsed from I did not get at the same time, and via twitter, I was told by Delta I would get an ecredit from KLM. In the end I got a charge back without taking any further action, 2 days after the flight was supposed to go.

I started to cancel via at the beginning but it was going to give me a voucher and charge me $200, which I was told on flyertalk that I could get waived but I didn't want either to lose $200 and try to get it reinstated, or take a voucher for the remainder and then try to convert it to cash later. During this personal trial the wording on changed a few times, as did the Delta procedures.

As an aside, if the carrier is adding segments you are always eligible for a cash refund, and since neither MSP nor PDX was receiving flights directly from Europe (still are not AFAIK) then you can also get a refund via that justification even if offered a re-route say via Atlanta or JFK (which I was not).

Posted by
2113 posts


My cancellation e-mail for fight #3:

Dear XXXX,

In response to the rapidly changing coronavirus
pandemic, we've had to make difficult decisions about - and
significant adjustments to - scheduled service systemwide. As a
result, your trip - confirmation XXXXXX - has been canceled. We
apologize for this inconvenience, but rest assured, the value of your
ticket won't be lost.

We are processing your eCredit, which you can
find in our step-by-step guide, and we appreciate your patience as we
work through unprecedented volumes. We are now extending the ability
to plan and re-book travel affected by coronavirus for up to two
years, making eligible tickets redeemable for a longer period.

Eric is right. The default is eCredit.

Posted by
2860 posts

I suspect things have changed, but with airlines there has never been equal treatment of customers. I certainly wouldn’t do anything cancellation-wise online, either call or use Twitter.

Posted by
1333 posts

The question is does the voucher period extend beyond the likelihood of a vaccine, which means sometime in 2021, hopefully.

Some airlines/cruises allow you to reschedule for 2022, which I prefer.

Posted by
2113 posts

Delta has extended vouchers out to May 31, 2022, for cancellations on air travel scheduled to take place through the end of June 2020.

Posted by
2113 posts

I certainly wouldn’t do anything cancellation-wise online, either call
or use Twitter.


Posted by
2113 posts

Refund for ticket #3 just posted to my credit card account. Two days. That's pretty good. I'm still waiting on ticket #1.