Yippee! Airlines must now issue automatic refunds for canceled flights

Airlines are notorious for their reluctance to issue refunds for canceled or delayed flights, making the refund process a nightmare for countless travelers. You practically have to beg for a refund, and the airlines employ a bureaucratic labyrinth that makes it very difficult to communicate with them. I've been on hold with an airline for hours, trying to get a refund on a canceled flight. And often, they would refuse to give me a refund and only offer credit on a future flight, which usually expires a year after they issued it.

But the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a new rule requiring airlines to automatically provide full cash refunds when flights are canceled or drastically changed without haggling or jumping through hoops. "Passengers deserve to get their money back when an airline owes them – without headaches or haggling," declared Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The refund mandate doesn't stop there. It also covers those maddening scenarios when you fork over extra cash for amenities like Wi-Fi or preferred seats, but the airline fails to deliver on its promises. No more getting stiffed – you'll get an automatic refund for any ancillary services not rendered. And finally, some justice for the lost luggage struggle: airlines will have to cough up that baggage fee if your checked bag is significantly delayed upon arrival.

The next time an airline pulls a bait-and-switch on your itinerary or conveniently "loses" your luggage, you can kick back knowing that refund is automatic – and they can't fleece you anymore. If they try to stiff you, Pete will sue them!

Previously: Judge orders airline to compensate passenger for rotten fish in his lost luggage