Wondering how to cancel a flight and get a refund? It’s definitely possible, but different airlines have their own restrictions for getting cancelling and getting a refund on a flight you’ve already booked and paid for.
Even non-refundable tickets can be cancelled and refunded if you follow the right steps! Keep reading to learn what to do to get your upcoming flight cancelled without losing a cent.
Can You Cancel a Flight and Get Your Money Back?
While refundable plane tickets are always eligible for a refund before departure, most flights are booked with non-refundable tickets.
That leads us to ask: How can you cancel a non-refundable flight and still get your money back?
It’s possible when you know the ins and outs of the different airline policies for cancellations and refunds.
Let’s get the hard-to-swallow part out of the way. Airlines will only give you a full refund to your original payment method if:
a) You purchase a refundable ticket or
b) You cancel the flight within 24 hours of booking
But if you’ve missed the 24-hour mark or didn’t buy a refundable ticket, all is not lost.
Many airlines will allow you to cancel a flight before departure and receive a full refund of the ticket price in the form of travel credit or vouchers.
It’s not a true refund, but it means you won’t lose the value of your ticket and can schedule a new flight within a year or more. Change fees or paying the difference in airfare may apply when the time comes.
Some airlines offer a little leeway beyond the 24-hour post-booking period and let you cancel a flight for a fee (up to $400), netting you a partial refund to your original payment method.
Again, not ideal, but it’s better than eating the cost of the unused ticket!
Let’s take a look at the actual policies of the most popular airlines below and see which ones offer the most customer-friendly cancellation and refund rules.
How to Cancel a Flight and Get a Full Refund
Learn how to cancel a flight and – the clincher – get a full refund when you look over the most popular airlines’ cancellation policies and refund rules laid out in simple terms below.
We’ll show you how to cancel a flight and get a refund from the following airlines:
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
Keep in mind that refunds may be offered to your original payment method (less common) or in the form of travel credit (more common).
How to Cancel a Flight With American Airlines
American Airlines will refund cancelled flights in some cases, but not all. They make it easy to cancel your flight and get your money back if your ticket meets certain criteria.
You can get a refund to your original payment method from American Airlines if it’s prior to your scheduled departure day and one of the following applies:
- Your ticket is refundable
- Your ticket is non-refundable, but
- You cancel within 24 hours of purchasing your ticket
- You’ve had a death in your immediate family
- You received military orders or jury duty
- A flight schedule change made it impossible for you to fly
- You have a documented illness and an international flight itinerary
Refunds are issued minus nonrefundable taxes and service charges, which vary by ticket and destination. Check with American Airlines for details.
You can get travel credit refund from American Airlines if it’s prior to your scheduled departure day, your ticket is non-refundable, and more than 24 hours has passed since you bought your ticket.
Your travel credit issued in the value of your ticket can be used up to one year later for a new, non-refundable ticket. If your new ticket is more expensive, you’ll pay the difference.
Here’s how to cancel a flight with American Airlines easily online with the website or app.
1. Check Your Confirmation Email
Your booking has a 6-digit Record Locator or confirmation number associated with it. You’ll find it in the confirmation email you received after booking. Copy it and use it in the next step.
2. Select ‘Cancel Trip’
In the top toolbar, select the ‘Cancel trip’ option and follow the instructions to finalize your cancellation. You’ll be issued a refund in the form of flight credit if your ticket is non-refundable and you bought it through American Airlines.
3. Review Your Email
You’ll receive a new confirmation email detailing your recent cancellation with your ticket number attached. Save the email so you can easily rebook your new flight later using the flight credit.
How to Cancel a Flight With Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines gives you a range of options for canceling a flight and getting a refund for the ticket price. Your refund might be issued to your original payment method or in the form of travel credits.
You can get a refund to your original payment method if it’s prior to departure day and one of the following applies:
- Your ticket is refundable or
- You cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking
Delta won’t issue original payment method refunds on non-refundable tickets unless you’re within the 24-hour mark after booking your ticket, a significant delay (120+ minutes) occurs, or your refundable ticket was purchased through a travel agency.
You can get a refund in the form of eCredits with a non-refundable ticket after the 24-hour mark post-booking, minus a cancellation fee, if it’s prior to departure day. Cancellation fees start at $99 and go up to $199.
Learn how to cancel a flight with Delta Air Lines below.
1. Locate Your Confirmation Number
Look for your original confirmation email to find your confirmation number. You can also log into your Delta account and visit ‘My Trips’ to find your confirmation number.
2. Find Your Trip
Under ‘My Trips,’ enter your name and confirmation number, then choose the upcoming flight you want to cancel. Select the ‘Need to Cancel?’ button to get to the next step.
3. Cancel Your Flight
Choose the ‘Start Flight Cancellation’ button and follow the prompts to make your way through the process. Review your selections and confirm your cancellation.
Once complete, you’ll receive a full refund (refundable tickets or non-refundable tickets within 24 hours of booking) or eCredit for the ticket value minus any cancellation fees. Save the confirmation email or log into your account to use the eCredit when you’re ready.
How to Cancel a Flight With Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines only offers refundable tickets through The WORKS bundle or the Flight Flexibility add-on. However, it’s still possible to get a refund on a non-refundable ticket when you cancel a Frontier Airlines flight.
Cancellations can be handled through the Frontier Airlines app or on the website. There’s no cancellation fee if any of the following applies:
- You purchased your ticket less than 24 hours ago and departure is 7+ days away
- You purchased The WORKS bundle or Flight Flexibility add-on
A cancellation fee of $99 (for flights booked after 6/2/22) applies for all other non-refundable tickets with Frontier Airlines.
The fee is subtracted from your ticket value, which you’ll receive as travel credit for a future Frontier flight. Credits must be used within 90 days.
Here’s how to cancel a flight with Frontier Airlines step-by-step.
1. Find Your Confirmation Code
Check your email for the original confirmation code from Frontier Airlines after you booked your flight. Visit the website or app under the ‘My Trips/Check-In’ button.
2. Locate Your Trip
Enter your last name and confirmation code under ‘My Trips/Check-In’ and hit ‘Search’ to pull up your trip details. Choose the upcoming flight you want to cancel.
3. Cancel Your Booking
Click or tap the ‘Cancel Booking’ button on the Trip Confirmation screen. Follow the prompts to finalize your flight cancellation and receive your refund or travel credit minus the cancellation fee.
How to Cancel a Flight With Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines offers both refundable (Business Select®/Anytime) and non-refundable tickets, but you might be able to score a refund to your original payment method with a non-refundable ticket, too.
You can cancel a Southwest Airlines flight online or through the app easily by navigating through the menu after searching and selecting your upcoming flight.
You can only receive a refund to your original payment method if one of the following applies:
- You purchased a Business Select®/Anytime refundable ticket
- You purchased a non-refundable ticket within the last 24 hours
You’ll need to contact Southwest Airlines at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA or online through the support center to get a full refund to your original payment method if you’re cancelling a flight within 24 hours of booking a non-refundable ticket.
Otherwise, you’ll be issued travel credit or Transferable Flight Credit™ for the value of your non-refundable ticket if you cancel your flight at least 10 minutes prior to departure time.
Here’s how to cancel a Southwest Airlines flight online.
1. Find Your Confirmation Number
Check your email to find the Southwest Airlines confirmation number from your original booking. Copy it or write it down to enter in the next step.
2. Visit ‘Manage Reservations’
On the app or website, visit the ‘Manage Reservations’ or ‘Cancel Flight Reservation’ tab. Enter your confirmation number, first name, and last name to start the cancellation process.
3. Cancel Your Flight
Select the upcoming flight you want to cancel and follow the prompts to finalize your cancellation. You can choose a refund or travel credit for refundable tickets.
Contact Southwest for a refund if you’re using the 24-hour refund policy. Receive travel credit for the ticket amount if your ticket is non-refundable and it’s after the 24-hour mark post-booking.
How to Cancel a Flight With Spirit Airlines
Since Spirit Airlines doesn’t offer refundable fares (it’s part of how they keep costs low for customers), any passenger who cancels a Spirit flight is doing so with a non-refundable ticket.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t snag a refund! In some cases, you can get a full refund back to your original payment method with no cancellation fee.
Full refunds to the original payment method apply only if you cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking. You get a 1-day grace period to cancel your flight and get all your money back to your card or payment method.
If you need to cancel your Spirit flight and there are 60+ days until departure, you can get a refund in the form of flight credit and pay $0 in cancellation fees.
If you need to cancel with Spirit and there are less than 60 days to departure, you’ll only receive travel credit for the ticket value minus a cancellation fee of $69-$119 that applies per passenger.
Spirit Airlines cancellation fees are as follows:
- 60+ days to departure: $0
- 31-59 days to departure: $69
- 7-30 days to departure: $99
- 0-6 days to departure: $119
Here’s how you can cancel a Spirit Airlines flight easily online.
1. Locate Your Confirmation Number
Check your email or log into your Spirit Airlines account to find your confirmation number from your original booking. You’ll need this number to proceed with your cancellation in the next step.
2. Visit ‘My Trips’
On the Spirit Airlines website, visit the ‘My Trips’ tab and enter your confirmation number, first name, and last name to pull up your upcoming flights. Choose the flight you want to cancel.
3. Cancel Your Flight
Follow the prompts to complete the cancellation process and get a new confirmation number with details on your new flight credits or refund timeline.
You can contact Spirit Airlines through a number of channels for help with cancellation, including texting 48763, calling 855-728-3555, chatting online, or sending a direct message on social media.
How to Cancel a Flight With United Airlines
Cancelling a United Airlines flight is simple enough, and if you navigate their policies correctly, you can even end up with a full refund back to your original payment method.
There are 2 ways to get a full refund back to your original payment method with United:
- You booked a refundable ticket
- You booked a non-refundable flight within the last 24 hours
United Airlines does offer a 24-hour booking policy that allows you to claim a full refund back to your payment method if you cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking, even if it’s a non-refundable ticket.
If you bought a non-refundable ticket and it’s been more than 24 hours since you booked your flight, you’ll be able to cancel your flight and get a refund in the form of future flight credits.
Those future flight credits expire one year after they’re issued, so be sure to book your new flight soon!
Here’s how to cancel a flight with United Airlines online.
1. Find Your Confirmation Number
Check your email or log into your United Airlines account to find your confirmation number on the flight you want to cancel. You’ll need to enter it in the next step.
2. Visit ‘My Trips’
On the United Airlines website, visit the ‘My Trips’ tab and enter your trip confirmation number, last name, and retrieve your flight information.
Select the flight you want to cancel.
3. Confirm Your Cancellation
Follow the prompts to finalize your cancellation and select the ‘Confirm Cancellation’ button to complete the process. You’ll see a list of options for your payment method refund or future flight credit.
Choose the available refund option that works best for you or contact customer service if you have more questions about receiving your refund.
Things to Consider
Learning how to cancel a flight can be pretty involved – there are a lot of moving parts and all airlines handle the process in a slightly different way.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about canceling an upcoming flight!
- The process is different if you purchased through an agency. If your ticket was purchased by or through a travel agency, the cancellation process won’t happen directly on the airline website or app. Instead, contact the travel agency to manage your flight and request flight cancellations. Their own rules and fees may apply.
- Travel insurance is a smart buy. If you’re not sure what trip or travel insurance is, you’re missing out on some major cancellation protection in the event something comes up before your next flight/trip. Travel insurance can cover the cost of non-refundable flights, hotels, and rental cars and enable you to get a full refund instead of flight credit if something outside of your control messes with your planned trip. Check out the 3 best travel insurance plans to cover your trip.
- Don’t be a no-show. All airlines have the ability to keep the cost of your ticket without issuing you a refund or travel credit if you don’t show up for your flight or fail to check-in without first cancelling the trip. Make sure to cancel your flight ahead of time – the sooner, the better – so you don’t lose the airfare!
- Airline trip protection plans need to be cancelled, too. If you purchased trip protection plans through one of your airline’s partner companies, you’ll have to submit a separate request for cancellation and refunds through the provider. Be sure to do this within 2 weeks of cancelling your flight to get your premium cost back.
- Bag fees and upgrades aren’t usually refundable. If you purchased extras, like Early Bird Check-In, extra checked bags, or upgraded bundles, these may not be refundable when you decide to cancel your flight. Read the fine print or talk to customer service to be clear on what is and isn’t included in your refund.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check out the frequently asked questions below to learn more about how to cancel a flight – and still get that sweet refund!
Can you cancel a flight and get a refund?
Yes, you can cancel a flight and get a refund in most cases. Your refund may be sent to your original payment method or issued in the form of flight credit that applies to a future flight.
Fees and taxes you paid on your ticket may or may not be included in your refund.
How to cancel your flight ticket?
You can cancel your flight ticket through the airline or travel agency you booked the flight through.
You’ll need your confirmation number and name to navigate the cancellation process online and get your refund or flight credits.
How long do you have to cancel a flight?
You can cancel a flight up to the day of departure, but you may incur fees by waiting this long. If you cancel within 24 hours of booking, you can get a full refund and won’t owe any cancellation fees.
In general, many airlines won’t charge you a fee for canceling a non-refundable ticket even when it’s close to the departure date, but you might only get the cost refunded as flight credit.
Can you cancel a flight immediately?
Yes, you can cancel a flight as soon as you’ve received the confirmation number for your booking from the airline.
You’ll need the confirmation number to cancel your flight through the online process.
Does it cost money to cancel a flight?
It can cost money to cancel a flight, but only some airlines charge cancellation fees or refuse to refund extra costs like baggage fees, flight add-ons, or taxes and surcharges.
Spirit, Frontier, and Delta are all examples of airlines that charge cancellation fees from $69-$400 after a certain period. Southwest, United, and American Airlines don't usually charge cancellation fees.
So, Know How to Cancel a Flight and Get Refunded?
We’ve walked through the various steps to cancel a flight and get a refund. Sometimes, you’ll be able to get a full refund issued to your original payment method – that’s the best case scenario for a cancelled flight.
Many times, however, you’ll have to settle for a refund in the form of travel credits that have to be used within a certain amount of time to book a new flight with that airline.
If you can avoid cancellation fees – like the fees Spirit, Frontier, and Delta charge in certain situations – you’ll be able to call off your flight without incurring any serious charges and still get your money back to use on another trip or something else.