Here’s what you need to know about airline ticket refunds

CHARLOTTE — After days of cancellations because of weather and staffing shortages, officials with American Airlines have said the company will hire more employees to be ready for the holiday rush. But the pilot’s union is not optimistic that will be enough, so many travelers are asking about refunds and credits.

Channel 9′s consumer expert, Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke, has compiled helpful information for air travelers. Here’s what you need to know.

Flight refunds:

Ticket holders are entitled to a refund if a flight is canceled, including any additional fees such as luggage.

The same applies to flights that aren’t canceled but have a significant schedule change or there’s a significant delay. It is not clear what qualifies as “significant,” however.

Ticket holders are not entitled to a refund for any expenses incurred because of flight issues such as a rental car, hotel stay or meals.

Airlines may offer to reimburse you for additional expenses or at least give you a credit or voucher, but they are not required.

A refund can be obtained if a ticket is refundable, even if the flight isn’t canceled, changed or delayed.

If the airline changes your seat to a lower-class section than what you paid for without you agreeing to a change, the airline owes you the price difference.

Ticket holders are not entitled to a refund because of bad service.

How to get a refund:

If you are entitled to a refund, start with the airline.

If you bought your ticket through a third-party website or a travel agent, start there instead.

Whatever entity sold it to you must process the payment within seven business days if a credit card was used or 20 business days if paid for with cash or a check.

Travel insurance can help cover expenses that you don’t get reimbursed for.

Travel Insurance:

If you have to cancel your flight because of sickness, an emergency or jury duty, travel insurance will usually cover it. It won’t cover it if you get cold feet.

There is a policy that will cover if you “cancel for any reason,” however, but this type usually costs more than regular travel insurance, sometimes as much as 40% more.

Don’t count on a full refund through travel insurance; you may only get 50-75% back.

Be sure to research the insurance company before you purchase a policy.

(WATCH: “Emotionally and physically exhausted”: More American flights canceled Monday at Charlotte Douglas)