With the escalation of the fighting between Israel and Gaza, several airlines have suspended air travel to Tel Aviv. American carriers Delta, United and U.S. Airways have all cancelled flights to Israel today. Those announcements were quickly followed by an order from the Federal Aviation Administration banning air travel to Israel after a Hamas missile landed a little too close to Ben Gurion International Airport for comfort. Though it's been widely reported that the air travel ban is for just 24 hours, the FAA press release made it clear that the 24 hour period was just buying the agency time to assess the situation and assemble more detailed instructions. We're predicting the ban will be extended tomorrow.
In the meantime, the disruption of air service to Israel from numerous carriers worldwide puts those with travel already booked in a bind. The good news is that several airlines have announced plans to issue refunds, and the cancellation policies for those who haven't announced it outright appear to be in favor of refunds as well. For those who are affected, we've assembled a list of the airlines that have cancelled their flights to Israel. We've additionally listed the contact info and cancellation policies for North American carriers. Disrupted travelers are advised to contact their airlines directly - do not wait for them to reach out to you.
Delta has a page devoted to answering passengers' questions about travel to Israel, and explicitly states that you may be entitled to a refund if your flight has been cancelled. Click on the red button in the lower right corner of the page to submit a refund request.
Link: Israel Refund or Compensation Request Info
SkyMiles Members: 1-800-323-2323
United's cancellation policy specifically addresses the "Israel Unrest". Change fees and differences in fare will not be charged if your rebooked travel occurs by 8/31; after 8/31 the fare difference will apply. The published policy stops short of offering refunds outright, but in light of the FAA ban you may have some luck by simply asking. The Online Refund Request is confusing, though, and your response may be automated, so it's probably worth your time to get a real live person on the phone instead.
Link: Flight Delays and Cancellations
Phone: 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331)
Looking through the U.S. Airways policy, we found this quote: "If US Airways changes or cancels your flight, changes equipment, causes you to miss a connection or you're denied boarding on an oversold flight and we're unable to provide your ChoiceSeats, checked bags, upgrade or move you up to an earlier flight, we'll refund your fees proactively." While this language does not directly address the situation with Israel, it does appear to apply. Although the policy promises a proactive refund, we recommend reaching out to U.S. Airways to confirm.
Link: General Policies: Refunds
Air Canada's Refund Options page states that, "In the event of a flight cancellation or a delay of more than two hours, Air Canada offers you the option of requesting a refund for the unused portion of your ticket, or using the unused portion toward future travel with us." As straightforward as that statement seems, you must request a refund through the party that sold it to you. Refunds may take up to three weeks to process.
The Airline Biz Blog at the Dallas News is keeping an updated list.
For additional information about what to do when your flight is cancelled, read our post, Can You Get Compensated for a Canceled Flight? It Depends.