March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015
Refund on a Non-refundable Airfare

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and it is also March 13th so it's the first Friday the 13th of the year. I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far.

In the past, people have paid for our trips to speak at their events with nonrefundable tickets. So what happens if something like a date change or other change happens? Are there ways to get a refund on a non-refundable airfare?

Non-refundable airfares are much cheaper than refundable ones, but if you cancel or change your flight, you'll pay a hefty fee. But there are some loopholes and workarounds. If you are booking an airfare in the United States, U.S. Department of Transportation regulations require that, as long as you've booked a non-refundable ticket 7 days ahead of your flight, you're entitled to hold your reservation and the fare and change or cancel your reservation within 24 hours of booking, without paying a cancellation fee (typically $200 on the remaining large "network" carriers for a domestic fare, but much more (up to $450 for some international fares), a bit less on other airlines, as this chart shows.

You can either cancel the reservation entirely, or change it, within the 24-hour window. If you change it however, a fare difference may apply, but there is no change penalty. This applies not just to U.S.-based airlines, but any airline selling airfares in the U.S.

You still have to pay for the airfare, and then get a refund without penalty, except that American Airlines is a bit different in that it allows you to hold your seat and the fare for 24 hours without paying for it. On American, you should NOT pay for the fare, but merely choose the 24-hour hold option without payment. If you pay for the fare rather than holding it, you will be hit with a change/cancel fee on American! Also, American sells fare "add-ons" starting at $68 round-trip that allow you to change your flight for free at any time, and the add-on includes a checked bag round-trip and priority boarding. Something to consider.

Southwest Airlines lets you change or cancel a fare within the 24 hour window without penalty, but it also allows you to change or cancel a reservation anytime before flight time and get a credit for the full amount of your fare, applicable to future travel within a year of the original reservation. You will have to pay any applicable fare increase, however.

Alaska Airlines now allows free changes/cancels if made at least 60 days prior to travel.

Allegiant Airlines is a bit more specific, stating in its rules that you may cancel as long as your scheduled flight is at least 168 hours (24 x 7) away at time of booking.

In order to take advantage of the 24-hour cancel or change rule, it's best to book directly with airlines, either online or by phone, rather than through third-party websites.

And it goes without saying that you can cancel a fully refundable ticket anytime and get a refund, although if you change rather than cancel there may be a fare difference if the fare has changed.

Hope these tips help you when you go to book your next flight and you have a beary safe and great Friday the 13th.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab