Many people ask me all the time how the cancellation and refund process works with the humanitarian flights. I have dedicated this to all of my adopting families and others who have questions about cancellations and refunds with humanitarian flights, so I can hopefully help to answer them here. Some benefits of using humanitarian airfare include the fact that these flights are refundable, minus airline penalties and fees, if you should need to cancel the flight prior to your departure date. Most flights out there on the internet are non-refundable, but the humanitarian flights are not in that category.
Missionary and humanitarian flights, unlike most flights, are refundable, minus airline penalties and fees if you should need to cancel and request a refund. These are not total refunds of 100% of your flight cost, but they do help tremendously, since most other flights are non-refundable. There are many other benefits to using humanitarian airfare as well. Humanitarian flights are changeable and usually the first change after departure does not have an airline penalty, so the change fees are much lower than changing a regular flight that you will find. Also, since humanitarian flights are only able to be accessed by a missionary and adoption travel agent, you can also expect much better service than using an online travel engine to purchase your flights.
The cancellation process for humanitarian and missionary flights can take around six weeks before you will see the refund applied back to your credit card. However, many people notice that their refunds show up closer to two or three weeks after the cancellation has been processed with the airline. There are always going to be multiple charges and credits with any refund of this nature, and many times you will need to add up the costs and credits which should all equal up to the amount quoted to you for your refund.
Sometimes an adopting family will need to cancel just the return portion of their flight for various reasons, and re-book with another airline at a later time. This is a case when the family would be very thankful that they have humanitarian flights vs. published flights. The humanitarian flights are refundable, even for just the return portion. This is always just a partial refund, less airline penalties and fees, but still helps tremendously to preserve some of the loss that would otherwise be incurred.
Generally, families who use humanitarian flights, especially for adoption travel, are very happy with them if they need to make changes to their return date. There are sometimes unpredictable circumstances that cause families to be forced to cancel their flights for adoption travel, and when these things happen, they are always very thankful that they have used humanitarian flights rather than anything they could have booked on their own.
I hope this helps in answering some of your questions!
Tabitha Lovell, International Travel Manager