Airline passengers could soon have a better chance of receiving refunds. The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering changes that would require airlines to refund passengers for canceled flights or those significantly changed or delayed.

DOT said complaints have flooded in regarding passengers losing their money or having issues getting refunds, so they want to better protect them. Essentially, all airlines would be required to issue refunds for cancelations or based on the length of the delay.

This is specifically what the DOT is proposing:

  • Changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight;
  • Changes to the departure or arrival airport;
  • Changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary; and 
  • Changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.

Under the proposal, a canceled flight would mean a flight that was published in a carrier’s Computer Reservation System at the time of the ticket sale but was not operated by the carrier.

Right now, airlines operate under various rules. As the government sorts that out, and to avoid problems now, Travel Agent Victoria Fricke strongly advises people to book directly with the carrier.

“If you book directly through Delta, Delta is going to have your best interest at heart,” Fricke said. “If you book through Expedia, Priceline, Kayak, you’re going through a third party’s customer service that isn’t very reliable and probably not going to get you the best fix to your situation.”

Fricke said customers should always buy travel insurance shortly after purchasing their flights.

“In every situation, the problem that you’re trying to mitigate using insurance is always going to cost more than the cost of insurance,” Fricke said.

The travel agent said airlines are having issues losing luggage right now. She advises putting an Airtag tracking device in your bag.

“If you can pack in a carry-on, do it. If not, if you have a tracker that you can borrow or buy, they’re $25 a piece and the security might be worth it,” Fricke said.

Unfortunately, scammers stand by to take advantage of passengers trying to pinch pennies. The Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana says consumers must always research the company through which they are booking.

“You should always be wary of a price that seems too good to be true because it usually is,” Shelbi Felblinger, Community Outreach Coordinator, said.

Felblinger said people must also ensure the customer service line is legitimate.

“Look up that phone number, see if there’s any links to scams or fraud and make sure it does link up with the business or with the company that you want to do business with,” Felblinger said.