Likbez: how to return tickets if plans have changed or the flight was delayed
Travel service experts
What are the tickets
Tickets are refundable and non-refundable. Check the return policy before you buy so you know for sure if you can get your money back. If the price is more important to you and you are sure about the travel dates, then the non-refundable fare is suitable. If there is a possibility that the vacation dates will be postponed, then you can play it safe and take a more expensive tariff.
If the ticket is non-refundable, you can’t just return it — only if you have compelling, documented circumstances or the airline is to blame for the return. Then you can issue the so-called forced return. If the ticket is refundable, then it can be returned for any reason.
When is it better to exchange rather than return a ticket
If you are planning to travel on the route you bought the ticket for just not now, it may be more profitable to issue a ticket exchange rather than a refund. Sometimes the rules for the exchange of a ticket involve a change in the route, but with restrictions. For example, if you planned to fly within Russia, then the new route must also be within the Russian Federation.
Not all fares have the option to exchange a ticket: in the most budgetary ones, this option is usually not available at all, and in more expensive ones it can be free or for an additional fee. Exchange is possible only for flights of the same airline.
How to make a return
The main rule is to contact where you bought the ticket. Tickets issued for
If you buy tickets from aggregators, you should take into account that a direct contract for transportation from a passenger is not with an aggregator site, but with an airline — this is stated in articles 103 and 105 of the Air Code of the Russian Federation. Money for tickets can be returned by both the airline and the agent, this is indicated in paragraph 231 of the Federal Aviation Rules.
The return can be forced (for example, when a flight was canceled or the traveler fell ill) and unforced (at personal request). Guarantees for passengers in different situations will be different. Refunds that do not meet the criteria for involuntary can usually be made no later than a certain time before departure (the conditions may differ from company to company, it is better to check the details where you bought tickets).
Let’s take a look at the common options.
If you simply decide not to fly because your plans have changed, then you can only return a return ticket. At the same time, service fees paid at the time of purchase are usually non-refundable. In addition, additional fees for the return operation may be charged from the amount, depending on the tariff.
you have force majeure
If a passenger has a difficult situation, the airline must return the money even for a non-refundable ticket. Such situations include, for example, the illness of a passenger, the death or illness of a close relative. Some airlines consider the official refusal of a visa, the conscription of a passenger or fellow traveler into the army as force majeure. You need to study the rules of the airline and find out in which cases an involuntary return is acceptable. To return the money, you will need to provide evidence: for example, a sick leave or other medical documents, a certificate from the consulate with a refusal.
The fact that the illness of a passenger or a relative who flies with him is the basis for a refund is specified in paragraph 227 of the Federal Aviation Rules. But this is true for Russian airlines. Foreigners have their own rules, and illness is not always considered a good reason for returning. Even if you have provided all the documents, the airline may refuse to return the money.
How to act
Apply for a refund as soon as possible, preferably no later than 48 hours before departure. In extreme cases, at least until the end of registration. Contact the airline or aggregator site where you bought the ticket. Submit the required documents and wait for a decision.
Flight canceled or severely delayed
If the flight was canceled or delayed, the route changed, and you did not get on the connecting flight due to the fault of the carrier, in these cases you can also return even a non-refundable ticket with compensation. However, if the flight is delayed, it will not always be possible to return the money — the time that is considered a significant delay and gives the right to an involuntary refund is set by the airline.
How to act
You will only receive compensation if the airline is at fault for the flight delay or cancellation. Weather conditions, epidemics, strikes, and even a sudden aircraft breakdown are all considered unforeseen circumstances, but even in such cases, the airline may agree to return the money or offer an exchange for another date.
If you missed your connecting flight, ask the airline for a certificate stating that the first flight was late. Bought a new ticket — keep receipts and receipts confirming expenses. Contact the airline or the company where you bought the ticket, provide all the evidence. You can only receive compensation if you have a single ticket for both flights.
If you checked in for a flight and then canceled it, ask for a cancellation stamp on your boarding pass. This will make it easier to get your money back.
If you checked in, your flight is heavily delayed and you change your mind about flying, you can cancel your flight. Put a mark that you are taking off the flight, contact the company where you bought the ticket.
When will the money return
The airline will first review your refund request, which may take several weeks. After approval, the bank credits the money up to 30 calendar days. Now airlines must refund the full price of the ticket, and not offer the passenger a voucher. But you can also choose a voucher and use it to buy a new ticket, if the passenger is satisfied with this.
What to do if you do not want to return the money
It happens that airlines do not return money even despite all the supporting documents. Read carefully the rules of the airline, find out all the information about your fare. Make sure that you are not mistaken and still entitled to compensation.
If, according to all the rules, you are entitled to a refund, and the airline refuses to return the money, draw up a pre-trial claim and send it to the airline. Perhaps it will not reach the court, and everything will be returned to you.
If the problem is with Russian airlines, refer to the Air Code of the Russian Federation, Federal Aviation Rules, paragraph 227, article 13 of the Law «On Protection of Consumer Rights». Write a complaint to Rospotrebnadzor or Rostransnadzor. We tried everything and nothing worked — then you can already go to court.
It can be more difficult to obtain compensation from a foreign carrier. If we are talking about an EU airline and a flight within the European Union, the passenger is entitled to compensation for flight cancellation and flight delay — depending on the delay time and flight distance. The amount of compensation and the rules are specified in EU Regulation 261/2004. If you have purchased a ticket for
How to protect yourself
If you are not sure that everything will go according to plan, it is better to buy return tickets, but they are usually more expensive. Find out if the company where you buy tickets has special return services. For example, Tutu has a service available for some flights within Russia
Tutu travel service is the No. 1 Russian travel service (data from the GfK cross-media panel, March 2018), where you can buy tickets for trains, planes and buses, see suburban train schedules, find travel packages, book hotels, select thematic tours, expeditions or excursions. The Tutu travel service has been operating since mid-2003 and has a monthly audience of 20 million unique users. According to SimilarWeb data for April 2023, the Tutu service website (tutu.ru) is in the top 20 most popular in the world in the Travel category.
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