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Voucher for canceled flight? You may be entitled to refund instead

Airlines have seen a sharp decline in travel over the past few months, leading to lots of canceled flights. Many passengers trying to get money back have received vouchers instead, but there is a way to get a cash refund.

Consumer Reports aviation adviser William McGee recommends that instead of canceling your flight, call the airline within two weeks of your trip to see how Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines may affect your travel plans. Airlines are required by law to give refunds for flights canceled by the company.

If a flight is canceled and a refund is not issued, passengers can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation, and airlines are required to respond. According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, airline complaints to the department quadrupled in March.

As a last resort, passengers can dispute the charge with the credit card company as a billing error, a right outlined by the Federal Trade Commission.

The U.S. PIRG said consumers should be persistent during the process. Bills have recently been introduced in Congress in support of passengers, including the Cash Refunds Coronavirus Cancellations Act and a bill mandating full cash refunds during the pandemic.

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