What Happens if an Airline Changes Your Flight? With a Flight Schedule Change, Can You Get a Refund for a non-refundable ticket, or at least make a free change to the flight? It depends on the amount of the schedule change, the airline, and sometimes the representative assisting you, as there can be room for discretion in certain cases. We'll look at the rules for American Airlines, United, Delta, and JetBlue to help you understand your passenger rights.
For schedule changes of 31-90 minutes, American Airlines allows a flight change, but the origin/destination, travel date, fare, and inventory must remain the same.
AA doesn't provide any travel voucher or refund for schedule changes of 60 minutes or less. For schedule changes of 61-120 minutes, AA will provide a travel voucher for future travel on AA, but won't refund back to the original form of payment. For schedule changes of 121 minutes or more, or if the flight has changed from a nonstop to one with one or more stops, a passenger can request a refund back to the original form of payment.
United Airlines (Updated 3/8/20)
United's schedule change policy offers to help find other potential flight options if your flight changes by 30 minutes or more, but the origin and destination airports must remain the same as on your original flight, and the flight must be operated by United or United Express.
At the time of writing the original version of this post, United's Refund page stated that if there's a flight schedule change of 2 hours or more, or the flights change such that there's insufficient time to connect, or there a change in the class of service (for example the aircraft type changes such that you're no longer in the business class cabin you booked) you can obtain a full refund to the original form of payment.
Unfortunately, as of 3/8/20, the 2 hours changed to 25 hours, in anticipation of drastic flight schedule changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sometimes it's also possible to obtain a full refund even for schedule changes of less than 2 hours but more than 30 minutes, but it's a “your mileage may vary” situation, and not guaranteed. Be aware that United and other airlines will try to provide the value as a future travel credit only valid on the airline, and the onus is on you as the passenger to firmly insist on a full refund to the credit card you used.
Delta Airlines permits a complimentary change when the airline's schedule change meets any one of the following:
- A departure delay of 30 minutes or more
- An arrival delay of 30 minutes or more
- An early departure of 15 minutes or more
- Any change that causes a misconnect
That said, the complimentary change must keep the same origin and destination cities, same class of service, and be on the same date as the original ticket.
To qualify for a refund of a non-refundable ticket, one or more of the following must be true:
- The schedule change results in no comparable itinerary being available within 90 minutes of the originally scheduled flight
- There is a routing change that adds one or more stops to the original itinerary
- The flight equipment has changed from a Delta mainline flight to a Delta Connections carrier
JetBlue does not permit free changes or cancellation for schedule changes less than 60 minutes from the originally booked itinerary. For schedule changes that are 60-119 minutes different from the original itinerary, you may cancel and receive the cash amount back to a Travel Bank, which can be used for future JetBlue flights for one year from the date of issuance. Alternatively, if the ticket was booked with JetBlue TrueBlue points, those will be refunded. Note that no refund is provided to the original form of payment.
If the schedule change is 120 minutes or greater from the originally booked itinerary, you may request a full refund to the original form of payment.
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