You are entitled to a refund for a canceled, significantly delayed flight. Here’s what you need to know.

After tens of thousands have been stuck in cities around the country after their Southwest flight was canceled, we want to help you better understand your rights as an airline traveler.

Since Christmas Day, airports have been filled with long lines, stranded passengers and piles of luggage. The federal government is now looking into what happened with Southwest.

Katy Nastro with Scott’s Cheap Flights joined us on The Morning Show on Thursday to explain what the airline is obligated to do to help passengers.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline cancels a flight, regardless of the reason, and the consumer chooses not to travel.

A consumer is also entitled to a refund if the airline makes a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the consumer chooses not to travel. What exactly constitutes a “significant delay” hasn’t been officially defined, so the DOT determines whether you are entitled to a refund following a significant delay on a case-by-case basis.

MORE: Information on refund requirements

Nastro pointed out that full cash refunds and rebookings should be provided promptly by the airline.

“But it could be up to seven to 10 business days,” Nastro said. “In this scenario, because there is such a mass of people looking to either get refunds or get rebooked on flights, each is going to take more time.”

Nastro said many airlines offered winter weather waivers ahead of the major storm to try to get travelers rebooked before the cancellations and delays to protect themselves.

“They will be proactive about that in certain scenarios, and it is a bit nuanced when it comes to what they will cover, say hotel stays and what not for out of their control scenarios like the weather,” Nastro said.

She also offered some advice for when it’s best to book.

“For a peak season, for example, for the summer, try to book in an opposite season,” Nastro said. “So about six months out and you should have a better time at finding a more affordable price.”

About the Author:

Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.