Airline tickets are similar to negotiable documents, subsequently, your rights if you lose your ticket depend on the conditions of carriage of the issuing airline. Because of this, refunds can be difficult to obtain if tickets are lost or stolen. It is important to know who the "issuing airline" is on your ticket because that is usually the one which will give you your refund. The issuing airline is the one whose logo is printed on the ticket. The issuing airline is usually but not necessarily the first airline in your flight schedule.
Many passengers believe that air tickets can be replaced as easily as travelers checks just because the reservation is in the computer, but that is not the case. In fact some airlines will not reimburse you for lost or stolen tickets.
If your ticket is lost or stolen, expect the airlines to:
Charge you a $25 to $100 processing fee.
Require you to repurchase a ticket in order to continue your trip. If you no longer meet all of the restrictions on your discount fare (e.g., seven-day advance purchase) the new ticket may cost more than the old one did. In that event, however, it is generally the higher fare that is eventually refunded, as long as you don't change any of the cities, flights or dates on your trip.
Take from 30 days to one year and 30 days to process your refund request. This is due to a ticket being valid on most airlines for up to one year. If anyone uses or cashes in your ticket while the refund is pending, the airline may refuse to give you your money back.
Require you to sign an indemnity if someone subsequently uses the ticket.
Note: Southwest Airlines does not refund lost tickets.
If you have to replace your ticket, you should:
If your airline ticket does go astray, you should immediately report the lost/stolen ticket to the airline that is shown as the issuing carrier at the top of the ticket, as well as notify the local police department and make a police report.
Go to the airport on the day of your flight and present a photocopy of the ticket and your identification to the ticketing staff. if you do not have a photocopy, provide them with your ticket number. Ask the ticket agent for a replacement ticket on the spot. Imply that if they don't give you a replacement, you can't take the flight. Many airlines allow their ticketing staff to make such a replacement and even waive the normal fee if "hardship" can be demonstrated. Most airlines, however, will require you to sign an indemnity if the lost ticket is subsequently used by someone else.
If the ticketing staff say they can't give you a replacement ticket and require you to send your lost ticket form through their normal procedures (which may take months), you'll have to purchase the replacement ticket. Most airlines will charge you the going fare for the new ticket rather than the fare you paid for your own ticket; however, normally the amount of the ultimate refund will be the new rather than the old fare. If the new fare is cheaper, be sure to request a refund for the lost ticket rather than the replacement ticket.
All in all, getting a refund or replacement for a lost ticket is a lot of trouble, and there's no guarantee you'll receive either one. So the best advice is-don't lose the ticket in the first place.
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