You’ve done your research, booked your flight at the best price – only to realize later that the price of your flight has suddenly dropped.
Are you out of luck?
Not quite yet – but you’ll need to act fast. Here are some tips on how to score a refund for lowered fare.
To start, if you notice a price drop within 24 hours – cancel and rebook your flight.
Regardless of the class of your ticket, the Department of Transportation allows you to cancel your flight within 24 hours (if your departure date is at least seven days out) for free – no penalties.
Instead of dealing with various airline policies, this is by far the simplest way to score a refund.
Once it’s been 24 hours though, you’re at the mercy of the airline and their various (and differing) policies.
So what can you do if the 24-hour window has expired?
Well to start, learn the game.
Here’s a brief breakdown on the major U.S. airlines and their refund policies.
The good news is, thanks to COVID-19, most airlines no longer charge you a fee to change or cancel your flight (unless you booked an economy seat).
Alaska is one of them, and allows you to change or cancel your flight without fees (unless you booked a saver fare).
So if you find a lower fare, while they won’t give you cash back – they’ll give you a future travel credit and let you rebook at the lower price with no additional charges.
American Airlines jumped on the no change or cancelation fees policy too – and for most tiers (except basic economy), you can cancel or change your flight with no extra fee and score a travel credit for the difference in airfare.
Make sure to check the date that you booked your flight – if it was before April 1st, regardless if you are in basic economy, just call American Airlines and they’ll rebook your flight for you and ensure you get the best price possible.
There’s a reason Delta Airlines is still my preferred airline – they’ve got the best policy hands down when it comes to scoring the best deal.
Delta stands by their “Best Fare Guarantee,” meaning if you book your flight directly through Delta’s website or on their app – and then find the exact same Delta fare on a different U.S.-based travel website (of at least a $10 difference), Delta will not only refund you the difference – but they’ll give you a $100 travel voucher!
And, if you book directly through Delta and find out your flight went down the day after you booked – they’ll reprice your ticket and give you the lowest fare with a credit to use towards future travel, reports The Points Guy.
Of course, this applies to all tickets except basic economy…
… BUT Delta is including a change fee waiver for basic economy through December 31st!
Delta’s website states:
“For those with upcoming Basic Economy travel through December 31, 2021, you can now make changes to your upcoming flight without paying a change fee through our temporary 2021 Basic Economy Changeability Waiver.”
As a bonus, if you find out your flight booked directly through Delta decreased by at least $10 on the same day you booked it– they’ll refund the difference directly to the credit card you used to purchase your flight.
Not my favorite airline…
… but I’ll admit it’s pretty easy to change or cancel your Southwest flight.
Southwest has no change or cancellation fees.
According to their website:
“Southwest never charges fees to change your flights because we understand plans change. Sometimes, you may be asked to pay a difference in fare if the new flight you’re choosing costs more than your original itinerary.
The good news?
If your new flight costs less, we’ll refund the difference to the original form of payment (if applicable) or the difference will be held for future use in the form of a reusable travel fund for the originally ticketed Passenger(s), as long as travel is completed by the expiration date, which is typically one year from the date of your original booking.”
United has also eliminated their change fees for most cabin fares (except basic economy).
But the good news is if you do have a basic economy ticket – you’re in luck if you purchase your ticket through December 31st – as they’re waiving change fees even on their lowest tier through the end of the year.
If you notice a lower fare – just cancel and rebook your flight (you’ll get a flight credit for the difference).
But if you happen to notice the price drop within 30 days after you purchased your ticket – you may have even more options.
The Points Guy reports:
“However, if you notice the price drop within 30 days of the original purchase date, the ticket can be re-priced — instead of having to cancel and re-book (this doesn’t apply to basic economy fares).
Technically, this costs $50 per passenger, which isn’t worth it since you can simply cancel and re-book, but there are many reports that United will waive this fee.”
Remember – if the airline significantly changes your flight or cancels your flight, you ARE entitled to a refund NOT A VOUCHER per the Department of Transportation rules.
Of course, airlines will try and offer you a voucher – but stand your ground!
And remember, things are bit whacky in the travel world right now with more and more destinations placing restrictions and mandates on travelers – so definitely make sure you check the latest COVID policies of your destination so you don’t get caught off guard.
Have you ever scored a refund for lowered fare?
What’s your experience in getting airline refunds?
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