2 reasons to book international trips on domestic carriers

5 May 2022
 2 reasons to book international trips on domestic carriers

The annual competition for world’s best airlines takes place every fall. The 2022 World Airline Awards event will take place in London, September 2022. Every year, international carriers are at the top of this elite list, leading many travelers to believe that international airlines offer better service.

When it comes to in-flight amenities, the top international carriers live up to the praise. Hands-down, they have more friendly in-flight service, better food, and even comfy lounges. Their economy class product is better too, which explains all the awards.

But why should you book international travel on a domestic carrier anyway?

At least for the near future, here’s why US travelers should consider booking international trips on domestic carriers. Read on and let us know what you think in a reply.

1. You can change your destination

One thing the pandemic has taught travelers is that things can change quickly. That’s one reason trip-stacking took off in a big way in 2021.

Travelers want to go somewhere, anywhere, and having a built-in travel backup plan was one way to do it.

The silver lining, at least from a traveler perspective, from the pandemic is the easing of airline change fees. If you catch COVID, or see that a hurricane is headed for your destination, you can change your flights easily. But only if you book on a domestic carrier and don’t buy a basic economy class ticket. 

If you book your ticket on an international carrier, it won’t be easy to change your destination since they don’t fly domestically around the US.

Pro hack: If you’re trip-stacking, keep careful track of your ‘cancel by’ dates and cancel at least one day earlier. Case in point: Airbnb recently announced its COVID refund policy will be ending.

2. Non US airlines don’t refund quickly

According to the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) airlines and ticket agents are required to make refunds promptly. Specifically, within 7 business days if the passenger paid by credit card.

The staffing shortages that have recently plagued US carriers is not a unique problem – it’s a global problem. If an international carrier cancels a flight, you may not get a quick refund. 

This author knows a couple waiting for a refund from Turkish Airlines for flights canceled two years ago!

Apparently, my friends are not the only ones either. Data from the US DOT’s April 2022 Air Travel Consumer report shows that refunds–or the lack of–is the number one complaint category against airlines (foreign and domestic) in February 2022. 

Early in the pandemic, some airlines were refusing to give refunds to travelers who canceled. This prompted the US DOT to issue an enforcement notice clarifying the rules.  

Travelers are entitled to a full cash refund in these circumstances:

  • When the airline cancels a flight, or
  • Makes a significant schedule change or delays a flight.

Many airlines offered vouchers in lieu of refunds, but consumers are legally entitled to ask for a refund instead. You can always ask the ticket agent or try to work with customer service to get a refund. Typically, the nicer you are the more likely you are to be successful.

As a last resort, ConnPIRG, a public interest advocacy group, has a unique recommendation for travelers. If you believe you’re entitled to a refund, you should dispute the charges with your credit card company

Finally, are you one of the holdouts hanging on to pandemic travel vouchers? Here are the airlines that are giving you more time to use them.

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Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.