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What airlines owe you if they cancel your flight

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Travelers make their way through Miami International Airport on December 28, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Travel in 2021 ended on a stressful note for thousands thanks to omicron. The fast-spreading coronavirus variant has driven up infection rates around the world, including among airline staff.

U.S. airlines have canceled more than 10,000 flights over the year-end holiday period as the variant sidelined pilots and flight attendants and bad weather hit hubs such as Seattle and Atlanta. Thousands more flights were delayed.

It’s a small percentage of overall schedules — about 5%, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware — but it has disrupted the plans of tens of thousands of travelers during what airline executives had forecast to be the busiest time since the pandemic began. Since Dec. 23, more than 15.6 million people have passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at airports, almost double the number a year ago.

Unlike the meltdowns at Spirit, American and Southwest in the summer and fall, the recent spate of disruptions is spread among several airlines, including Delta, United, JetBlue, Alaska and SkyWest.

Here’s what to know:

Refunds

If your airline cancels your flight and you choose not to take an alternate flight, they owe you a refund under federal law. Airlines could offer credit with the airline, but passengers can ask for a full refund. This is the case regardless of the reason for the cancellation: bad weather, staffing problems or other issues, according to the Department of Transportation.

“You can always get your money back if they can’t accommodate you, but it doesn’t get you home,” said Brett Snyder, who runs a travel concierge service and the Cranky Flier travel website.

The DOT also says travelers are owed refunds if their flight is significantly delayed, though it does not define what falls into that category.

“Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on many factors — including the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your particular circumstances,” it says on its website. “DOT determines whether you are entitled to a refund following a significant delay on a case-by-case basis.”

Rebooking

Airlines attempt to cancel flights long before passengers get to the airport so travelers can make alternative plans, preferably through self-serve platforms on their apps or websites, and don’t overwhelm ticket counters. JetBlue, for example, is trimming about 1,280 flights from its schedule though Jan. 13, ahead of an expected further increase in the number of omicron infections among staff.

“The worst type of cancellation, as we all know, is that cancellation that happens at the airport,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told CNBC on Thursday.

Hold times on airline customer service phone lines during a period of disruptions can sometimes be hours, though some carriers, such as Delta, will ring you back when it’s your turn. Airlines also offer chat services and often respond on Twitter.

Snyder recommends trying all available channels when there are backups.

Passenger cancellations

With omicron continuing to spread, some travelers might opt to put off travel or may test positive and be unable to reach their destination if traveling abroad. Many countries have tightened travel restrictions since the omicron variant was detected in late November. The United States, for example, now requires all inbound travelers, including U.S. citizens, to test negative for Covid within a day of departure.

The State Department on Thursday warned U.S. citizens about international travel, as testing positive in another country could mean travelers have to quarantine abroad, at their own expense, until they test negative.

“Foreign governments in any country may implement restrictions with little notice,” the State Department added.

Large U.S. airlines such as Delta, United and American have done away with the hefty change fees for standard economy tickets and above, both for international and domestic flights. Travelers are still responsible for any difference in fare. Airlines have largely ended pandemic-era fee waivers for nonrefundable basic economy tickets, but travelers should check with their specific airline.

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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