Q. We had long-standing reservations for a flight to St Louis, connecting in Atlanta. Departure time from our home city was 8:30 am.

We received an email timed at midnight (which we didn't see right away) and then a 5:00 am automated phone call from Delta telling us the flights had been cancelled, and that we'd been placed on another series of flights departing around noon. It would have gotten us to St Louis within five hours of our original arrival time.

The new timing did not work for us, so I called Delta (and after being on hold for quite a while) the reissue desk allowed us to cancel with a full refund ... since they said that it was an involuntary change on our part.

Is this common? I mean, I'm grateful to have a full refund, but with all the schedule changes in the air today, is it Delta's policy to fully refund if THEY change the flights?

A. Yes indeed, this is called an involuntary refund and most airlines have a rule in their contracts of carriage covering this. If the flight is cancelled, or the time significantly changed (depending on airline, if it's just an hour or two this doesn't apply) you can get a full refund, even on a non refundable ticket.

You'll find this rule (usually called Rule 260) in the airlines' contracts of carriage. So if you feel like the new flight times are so far off the original that you can't make it to the airport in time, or your trip will be futile, ask for a refund.

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