COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As the nightmare drags on for thousands of travelers — five days after a winter storm swept across much of the country — the Better Business Bureau wants you to know your options if your flight gets canceled.
A U.S. Department of Transportation rule requires airlines to reimburse passengers for canceled flights.
Beyond that, it’s up to each airline to come up with its own policy for how to compensate customers for cancellations that are within the airline’s control. Compensation might include meal vouchers, paying for another flight on a different airline, or putting stranded passengers up in a hotel.
The policy for Southwest Airlines, which canceled thousands of flights this week, covers meal vouchers, hotel stays and rides to the hotels. It does not cover flights on other airlines, according to the USDOT’s airline customer service dashboard.
Judy Dollison, President of the BBB of Central Ohio, recommends that stranded travelers save receipts for hotel stays, meals and any other expenses they may have incurred due to cancelations.
“Even if you’re not being told right then and there that you’re going to get reimbursed, because you may be able to pursue that after the fact,” Dollison said.
According to Southwest’s website, the airline will “honor reasonable requests for reimbursement for meals, hotel and alternate transportation” due to this week’s massive travel disruption.
In other situations, Dollison said airlines might offer vouchers to passengers whose flights are canceled, but shared a warning about accepting a voucher.
“You are not required to accept that. You can demand a refund and not accept the voucher,” Dollison said. “But if you accept the voucher, you are accepting that in exchange of the refund. And again, just be aware of the policies around the vouchers because sometimes they are not totally open. There’s really blackout dates and restrictions that you should be aware of.”