If American Airlines pilots go on strike, can ticket holders get refunds? What to know

Pilots at American Airlines have voted to authorize a strike amid talks for a new contract.

More than 96% or 15,000 members of the Allied Pilots Association voted in favor of authorizing the union to strike. The Fort Worth-based American Airlines, with a large hub at Miami International Airport, is under pressure to match or beat terms that Delta Air Lines agreed to with its pilots.

The move is likely being used a negotiating strategy from the union as federal law prohibits airline unions from striking without the tacit approval of a U.S. mediation board.

KNOW MORE: Pilots for Miami’s biggest airline, American, vote for strike authorization

While a pilot walkout might be unlikely, a strike could affect travelers flying on American Airlines flights. Here’s what to do if your flight has been delayed or canceled by an airline strike:

What should you do to protect yourself from an airline strike?

In the event of a strike, travelers can do a few things to protect themselves from canceled or delayed flights.

  • If you’re flexible on travel dates, check in with your airlines on rebooking for a later date, according to TripSavvy. Airlines typically don’t add any additional rebooking fees during a strike.

  • American Airlines could also offer to rebook flights with one of its over a dozen partner airlines. A few partner airlines include British Airways, Japan Airlines, JetBlue and IndiGo.

  • Another option amid an airline strike is to get a refund and see about other travel options. Travelers can also check if their travel insurance covers strikes or labor disruptions.

Are you entitled to a refund if American Airline pilots strike?

A traveler with a canceled flight is entitled to a refund no matter the circumstance and if they choose not to travel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If American Airlines pilots do strike, it mean canceled or delayed flights for many passengers. Other circumstances where travelers are entitled to a refund include:

  • Schedule or delay — If an airline made a significant schedule change or delay and the traveler chose not to travel.

  • Service change — A traveler is entitled to a refund if they were moved to a lower class of service. For example, if someone bought a first-class ticket but was downgraded to a lower class due to an aircraft swap.

  • Service fees — A traveler is entitled to a refund of fees if they were unable to use services they purchased. For example, if someone purchased in-flight Wi-Fi or seat upgrades and was unable to use it because of a flight cancellation or delay.

Is there anything else you can do during an airline strike?

Using other larger or smaller airlines could be a way around waiting on a strike to end.

Smaller or charter airlines likely have fewer options since they don’t typically have ticketing agreements with other companies, according to TripSavvy. However, charter flights could be expensive since they typically offer smaller and more private flights.

Another option is to simply book with another airline who can offer services to the destination of your choice.