Airline Refund Policies Including Zika: United, American Airlines, Delta Airlines

Airline Refund Policies Including Zika: United, American Airlines, Delta Airlines


Airline refund policies can be very important if the unexpected occurs: a family member's illness or death, jury duty, or pregnancy in the context of travel to somewhere with Zika virus. While airline refunds are especially important if you booked an expensive paid ticket, refunds are also useful when it comes to high redeposit fees on frequent flyer tickets for non-elite members, particularly if you booked multiple tickets for a family.

JetBlue

Generally JetBlue issues refunds of non-refundable tickets only in the event of the death of the ticketed passenger, and any travel companions (death certificate required).

JetBlue will waive change fees for active members of the military and members of their immediate family traveling on the same itinerary, only if their travel plans must be changed due to military deployment or transfer. The military deployment/transfer order must be faxed to JetBlue.

Other than the above, the cost to change your ticket depends on the type of fare you purchased:

Blue Fares

Changes and cancellations made 60 days or more prior to departure date:

  • $70 per person fee + difference in fare

Changes and cancellations made within 60 days of departure date:

  • $70 per-person fee for fares under $100 + difference in fare
  • $90 per-person fee for fares between $100 – $149 + difference in fare
  • $135 per-person fee for fares $150 or more+ difference in fare

Blue Plus Fares

Changes and cancellations made 60 days or more prior to departure date:

  • $60 per-person fee + difference in fare

Changes and cancellations made within 60 days of departure date:

  • $60 per-person fee for fares under $100 + difference in fare
  • $80 per-person fee for fares between $100 – $149 + difference in fare
  • $120 per-person fee for fares $150 or more+ difference in fare

Blue Flex Fares

No charge to change or cancel your reservation prior to departure, difference in fare only.

 

JetBlue Zika Policy

JetBlue currently has one of the friendliest Zika cancellation/change policies: travelers booked on flights to destinations reported by the CDC to be affected by Zika can be allowed to change their flights to alternate destinations and dates or opt for a refund, with no change or cancellation fee. Travel must have been booked on or before August 31, 2016.

 

United Airlines / MileagePlus

As with most airlines, in most circumstances of illness United will simply waive change fees and allow the passenger to rebook within the ticket's validity date, which is one year from the date of issue.

A refund is allowed only for:

  • Death of the traveler, traveling companion or immediate family member
  • Travelers in the reservation actively on jury duty during the dates of planned travel
  • Certain illness situations
An immediate family member must be one of the following:
  • adopted ward
  • aunt
  • brother
  • brother-in-law
  • daughter
  • daughter-in-law
  • domestic partner
  • father
  • father-in-law
  • foster brother
  • foster daughter
  • foster father
  • foster mother
  • foster sister
  • foster son
  • granddaughter
  • grandfather
  • grandmother
  • grandson
  • half-brother
  • half-sister
  • husband
  • legal guardian
  • mother
  • mother-in-law
  • nephew
  • niece
  • sister
  • sister-in-law
  • son
  • son-in-law
  • step-brother
  • step-daughter
  • step-father
  • step-mother
  • step-sister
  • step-son
  • uncle
  • wife

 

How to Get a Refund of a United Airlines Ticket or MileagePlus Redeposit Fees

1. Cancel the trip before the date of departure

2. If you'll be rescheduling travel within the ticket validity, keep the record locator and e-ticket number as a reference, since the new trip will be made using the original record. You'll need to pay the change fee 

3. For both rescheduling and refunds, you must request them within the original ticket's validity (within 1 year of the ticket's issue date). You'll need to pay the change or redeposit fee, and then subsequently request these to be refunded, subject to United's approval

4. For a ticket refund instead of a ticket change, in the case of illness, the doctor's note will need to confirm that travel is not recommended within the original ticket's validity, due to illness. 

5. Go to United Customer Refund Services to submit your refund request, together with the required documentation (see below).

6. If United approves your refund request, a refund will be provided to the original form of payment. Refunds for purchases made with Gift Certificates will be provided in the form of electronic travel certificates.

Documentation Requirements

In cases of death: Refunds require a copy of the death certificate. If your change is due to the death of an immediate family member, the request must contain the family member’s name and relationship to you.

Illness situations: Change fee refunds require a letter (on letterhead) from a licensed physician confirming that travel was not recommended due to the customer's illness. Ticket refunds require a letter (on letterhead) from a licensed physician confirming that travel was not recommended within the validity of the ticket (one year of ticket’s issued date) due to illness. If the request is due to the illness of an immediate family member, the request must contain the family member’s name and relationship to you.

Jury duty refund requests: Refunds require a copy of the jury summons.

 

United Airlines Zika Policy

If you booked your United ticket or MileagePlus award ticket before February 29, 2016 and cannot travel due CDC guidance you may change your ticket without penalty or apply for a refund of your ticket. If changing your ticket, the new travel dates must be within the original ticket's validity (within 1 year of when the ticket was issued). Additional charges may apply if there is a difference in fare of the new itinerary.

While United's Zika policy doesn't yet specifically mention Miami, it does mention Singapore, and tickets to Singapore must have been issued on or before September 2, 2016. I expect that if you are booked to Miami and have a doctor's note advising against the travel due to the Zika outbreak, you should be able to have United change your ticket at no cost, assuming your new dates are within the ticket's validity.

 

 

American Airlines / AAdvantage

For American Airlines, a full refund is only officially given for refundable tickets, flight cancellation, schedule changes of more than 2 hours, the death of the passenger, a “force majeure” type event such as a natural disaster, or for Zika (see below); otherwise, non-refundable tickets are exactly that.

How to Request: To request a refund, go to the AA Refund Page.

 

American Airlines Zika Policy

If you booked your AA ticket on or before March 31, 2016 to a destination in Latin America or the Caribbean and are pregnant, you can request a full refund. You must provide a doctor's note confirming your preganancy.

 

Delta Airlines / SkyMiles

Similarly to American, Delta Airlines only allows a full refund for refundable tickets, flight cancellation, delays or schedule changes (over 90 minutes), the death of the passenger, a “force majeure” type event such as a natural disaster, or for potentially Zika (see below); otherwise non-refundable tickets remain non-refundable.

Some passengers, especially those with elite status, have been able to have their ticket dates changed on account of illness or medical emergency, without penalty; your mileage may vary. Some have noticed that the online credit shows with a $200 change fee reduction, but that based on the customer service rep interaction, they're able to use the full credit amount of their original ticket to rebook, with no $200 reduction.

How to Request: Call the Medallion line if you're an elite member, or customer service at 800-221-1212 if you're a general member.

 

Delta Airlines  Zika Policy

Delta instructs passengers with current Delta reservations who are concerned about traveling to an area affected by the Zika Virus to call 800-221-1212. Delta says such passengers “may qualify for a change to alternate destinations, travel dates or a refund. Customers may make fee-waived changes to future reservations/tickets if tickets were issued on or before March 1, 2016.”

Have you had to apply for an airline refund, and did the airline accommodate your request for a refund?

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