Has anyone gotten an airline refund?

Yes! I had booked round-trip tickets with United for a trip in late May. When the lockdowns started, I cancelled the trip with a request for refund. I had to jump through a few extra hoops, but I eventually got a refund for the seat upgrades as well.

Mind sharing the extra hoops??

Sure! I had to go to United’s refund page and fill out their form. (This was after I had asked for, and received, a refund for the flights using the link on their “manage your reservation” page.) It looks like they’ve streamlined it a bit since I used it; at the time, the catch was that I had to enter information for each seat upgrade rather than just the flights or the reservation in question. (I realized this after my first request resulted in only a partial refund.) To further complicate things, the form I was using was clearly meant for processing a refund request for just flight reservations, so it wasn’t clear to me where I was supposed to type in the information related just to the upgrades. Apparently they have actual people processing the form data though, and I entered enough information for this to work.

How did you even get a refund for the flights, though? To my understanding, they only give refunds if they cancel the flight. If you just decide it’s not safe to travel, they give you a change-fee-waived credit for future flight but not a refund.

At the time, United was refunding flights if you could demonstrate that any changes they had made to your flight would severely disrupt your trip. Although United was operating normally at the time I placed my reservation, they did start modifying flights significantly – in my case, by consolidating commuter flights onto larger aircraft and shifting departure times. My final connecting flight for the trip had been moved to such a late time that it would have resulted in arrival at my destination sometime the next morning.

I hate Air Canada. My director didn’t realize their flights used military time, so she ended up with a ticket for 7am instead of 7pm. The flight was 4 weeks out, and they charged us $150 to fix it. Southwest fixed a similar mistake…for $3.

And then there was the cancelled flight that they wouldn’t refund during Hurricane Sandy, because “the airports in Ontario were open.” Their frickin’ plane did not fly from Boston to Ontario, mind you…the best we could do was get them to give her a ticket for another flight, after another $150 change fee.