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? No...at 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.
Addendum.....as 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: