9 Investigates: What you should know about refunds, vouchers, travel insurance

CHARLOTTE — What are you supposed to do if your flight is canceled unexpectedly? It can throw your entire holiday into a tailspin.

Action 9 Investigator Jason Stoogenke wants to make sure you’re covered if your plans change -- especially if the change isn’t your idea.

AIRLINE CANCELS YOUR FLIGHT

If your flight is canceled, you’re entitled to a refund. It’s as simple as that. And that includes all the fees that went with it, like baggage.

You’re even entitled to a refund if the flight isn’t canceled but there’s a significant schedule change or “significant” delay to the flight (though it’s not clear what qualifies as “significant”).

If your flight is canceled, you deserve your money back:

  • Start with the airline.
  • If you bought your ticket through a third-party website or a travel agent, start there instead.
  • If you used a credit card, whoever sold you your ticket must process it within seven business days.
  • If you paid with cash or check: 20 business days.

If the airline switches your seat to a lower class section than what you paid for without you agreeing to it, the airline owes you the difference in price.

You’re not entitled to a refund for expenses you may incur because of the flight’s issues (like a rental car, hotel, or extra meals). Airlines may reimburse you -- or give you a credit or voucher -- but they don’t have to.

For the most part, you’re not entitled to a refund because of “bad service.”

YOU CANCEL YOUR FLIGHT

If you cancel your flight, you can only get money back if you bought a refundable ticket. Otherwise, assume you’re out the money.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

That’s why travel insurance can be a big help. Just make sure you know what’s covered and, maybe more importantly, what’s not. Insurance usually covers if you get sick, have an emergency or jury duty, or some vendor cancels on you.

It does not cover if you get cold feet -- but there is a policy that does.

Action 9 has reported about it before, it’s called “Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR).” Many CFAR policies even cover pandemics, while standard ones don’t. They usually cost more than regular travel insurance (about 40% more) and only get you about 50%-75% back.

Always research the insurance company before you buy -- they’re not all the same. Shop around.

HOTEL/VENDOR CANCELATIONS:

If a hotel or other vendor cancels on you, don’t just assume the company bears the loss. A lot of times, the contract puts it on the consumer.

We saw that a lot during the early days of the pandemic, especially with weddings and beach house rentals.

So read the fine print and know what you’re signing.

(WATCH BELOW: What you need to know about your travel insurance policy)