Travel Refund Policies: Can You Get Your Money Back?

Lifestyle, Travel

If you could pack up your bags and head anywhere, where would you go? A tropical getaway sounds mighty fine to us, but then there's traveling to see family, too! But before you book that trip, make sure you're up to speed on travel refund policies.

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You've been looking forward to that getaway for months, but something came up last minute, and you have to cancel. Bummer! After you take some time to throw a little pity party (trust us, we get it), you might start to wonder if you can get your money back.

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Well, wonder no more. We scoured the web and did tons of research so you can have peace of mind before you book your next trip. Which airlines, booking sites, and cruise lines offer a travel refund? Keep on reading!

DOES AIRBNB OFFER A TRAVEL REFUND?

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Many travelers these days are turning away from pricey hotels and booking rooms or entire homes through Airbnb. Having access to your own kitchen is a great way to save money while traveling, so we're all about it! But are the cancellations as flexible as they are with hotel rooms? Let's find out!

Whether you booked a yurt for a fun glamping weekend with the hubs or a big cabin for the next family reunion, here's what you need to know about Airbnb's travel refund policies:

  • General Cancelation Policies – The short answer? It depends. If you're booking a long-term Airbnb stay (28 days or more), then you are eligible for a full refund within 48 hours of booking as long as you cancel 28 days before check-in. For shorter-term rentals, policies vary. Owners can set their own policies, the most lenient allowing for free cancelation up to 24 hours before check-in, and the most strict offering a 50% refund if guests cancel 7 days before scheduled arrival.
  • Extenuating Circumstances Policy – If you have to cancel for reasons beyond your control, Airbnb is often able to waive cancelation penalties.
  • Other Refund Policies – If you find the property you booked isn't as advertised or you have issues reaching the owner to resolve an issue, reach out to Airbnb customer service. You may be eligible for a refund or discount!

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DISNEY CRUISE REFUNDS

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Are your kiddos obsessed with Disney? A Disney Cruise is perfect for families, but before you spend all your vacation fund savings, make sure you can get your money back if you need to! Here are the details on the Disney Cruise refund policies:

  • 1-5 Night Sailings – Disney Cruises require a deposit upfront when you book. If you cancel your booking within 45 days of the trip, you forfeit the deposit for each guest but can get a refund on the rest. 44-30 days out, you can get 50% of your money back (per guest). 29-15 days out, you'll get 25% of your money back. After that, refunds aren't offered.
  • 6+ Night Sailings – The same two-week rule applies here. No refunds after that point! If you cancel within 56 days of sailing, you only lose your deposits. The cutoff for a 50% refund is within 30 days of the trip.
  • Suite and Concierge Staterooms – Regardless of the length of your sailing, rules are stricter for suites. If you cancel 90 days or more before your trip, you can secure a refund, minus deposits. 89-56 days out, you're eligible for a 50% refund. 55-30 days out, you can get 25% of your money back. After that, refund eligibility disappears.
  • COVID-19 Exceptions – For sailings through May 2021, you can change your sail date within 15 days of cruising. If you cancel at least 14 days before sailing due to health concerns, you can get 100% of your money back.

Who's up for a cruise now?! You'll need a flight to get to your port, so let's talk airlines again.

AMERICAN AIRLINES TRAVEL REFUND POLICIES

Time for a cross country trip? Thinking of flying? Before you click that “book now” button, let's go over American Airlines' rules on flight changes/cancelations:

  • 24-Hour Rule – Unless you book a flight less than 2 days before takeoff, you have 24 hours from the time of purchase to change your mind, cancel, and get a full refund.
  • Airline-Canceled Flight – If American Airlines has to cancel your flight for any reason, you can use the value of your unused ticket towards another flight.
  • COVID-19 Exceptions – Refund/Cancelation policies are relaxed due to COVID-19, so it's best to check with each airline for details. Here's American Airline's coronavirus travel update page.

In general, American Airlines does not issue refunds for missed flights if the passenger is at fault, so if you think your plans may change, travel insurance is a good idea!

How do other major airlines approach refunds? We're about to spill the tea on four more U.S.-based carriers.

SOUTHWEST TRAVEL REFUND

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Aside from their friendly employees and their generous bag policy (you can check two for free!), the best thing about Southwest is their super flexible change and cancelation policies. Here's what you need to know:

  • No Cancel or Change Fees – If you need to change or cancel a reservation, Southwest doesn't charge you a penny! In some cases, you can get a full refund. If you purchase their discount “Wanna Get Away” fares, those tickets are not refundable. However, as long as you cancel at least 10-minutes before your flight, they will refund you points to use towards another trip.
  • COVID-19 Policies – Much like American Airlines, Southwest has relaxed some of its regulations in response to COVID-19. One noteworthy change? They're giving their frequent fliers more time to use up rewards miles. You can learn more on the Southwest blog.

As always, it never hurts to check with your airline if you have questions! It's better to ask before you book, so when in doubt, drop them a message on social media or give them a call.

DELTA TRAVEL REFUND

We all know Delta has the yummiest cookies, but where do they stand on refunds and cancelations? Here's an overview:

  • 24-Hour Rule – If you change your mind, you can get a full refund within 24-hours of booking your flight. After 24 hours have passed, you can make changes to your reservation for a $200 fee.
  • COVID-19 Policies – Due to coronavirus, Delta is allowing customers to book without change fees through the end of 2020. So, if your plans change, you can exchange your ticket for another flight with no penalty. Stay up to date on their COVID-19 policies on the Delta website.

If weather cancels your flight, Delta will let you rebook at no penalty. Make sure you sign up for their text alerts so you can get your first pick of alternate flights!

UNITED AIRLINES TRAVEL REFUND

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Overall, United Airlines' refund and cancelation policies are pretty similar to Delta and American Airlines, but don't worry! We're about to break it all down for you:

  • 24-Hour Rule – United Airlines gives you a full day to cancel your reservation for a refund. The only catch? The flight must be at least a week or more away.
  • Basic Economy – If you book a basic economy ticket, you are not eligible for a refund but may be able to get a voucher to use towards another flight.
  • COVID-19 Policies – While their rules aren't as lenient as some other airlines, United is offering refunds on certain flights that have been impacted by COVID-19. To find out if you may be eligible, check the United Airlines refund page.

If you're planning international travel to France, Columbia, or Taiwan, read up on the Right of Withdrawal rules. In some cases, you can cancel and receive a full refund up to 24-hours before departure.

JETBLUE TRAVEL REFUND

The full-sized snacks and live TV are huge perks of flying with JetBlue! The big question–is their cancelation policy as generous? Let's explore together! Here's what we know:

  • Refundable Fares – Pay close attention when you're booking with JetBlue! They offer fully refundable fares, with unlimited cancelations up until an hour before your flight! Pretty dang good, right? This level of flexibility doesn't apply to all discount fares and isn't available at all airports, so check before you book.
  • Change Policy – Need to make a change to your reservation? Or change from a non-refundable fare to a refundable one? In most cases, you can do so for a fee!
  • COVDID-19 Travel Insurance – Want extra peace of mind? You can buy travel insurance through Allianz to protect any JetBlue booking. Read more about the JetBlue/Allianz partnership and their COVID-19 precautions.

Wondering if other smaller airlines issue refunds? Many are extending added flexibility into Spring 2021, so check their website for all the details! Now, let's switch gears a bit. If flying's not your thing, let's talk trains.

AMTRAK REFUND POLICY

Whether you want to explore a new part of the country, avoid big city traffic, or travel more affordably than you can by plane, train travel can be a great option! Plus, there's just something so fun and exciting about a train ride. At least for us. Guess we're still kids at heart! How flexible is Amtrak with their refund and cancelation policy? Here's what we found out:

  • Refund Policy – Amtrak groups their fares into different categories–Saver, Value, Flexible, Business, and Premium, and the refund policy varies by type of fare. Unless you cancel within 24 hours of booking, saver fares are non-refundable. You can change your reservation free of charge, though. Find a full breakdown of the refund policies by fare type on the Amtrak website.
  • Book Early – Want to save money? Book as far ahead as you can! Amtrak typically releases their train schedules 11 months in advance. While you may not qualify for a refund if your plans change last minute, you can get an e-voucher to use towards another fare.

Amtrak offers a guest rewards program, so if you plan to take the train often, definitely sign up! You'll earn points each time you travel, and those points turn into free tickets. Sweet!

Well, now you're a travel refund pro! Know someone else who needs this info? Please pass it along!

Oh, and before you go, we'd love to hear from you. Are you saving up for a big trip? Leave a comment below and tell us about your dream vacation!

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Bon voyage!

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