One of the most annoying aspects of booking your air travel is when you think you have paid the best possible price for your seat, only to discover that the price has dropped shortly after your purchase.
Rather than sigh and put it down to bad luck, there are steps you can take to get a refund on flight costs from the airline if you act quickly enough on certain tickets.
Our article below will talk you through whether a refund is possible on your ticket and all the steps you can take to get a cancelled flight refund when your fare drops after your purchase.
Can you get money back from the airline if your flight is cheaper?
The biggest determining factor as to whether you can claim any money back on your ticket is time.
All flights arriving to and departing from the country in the US must abide by the "24-hour rule". This US Department of Transportation policy means that airlines must enable you to either change or cancel your ticket without any extra fees within the first 24 hours of your purchase.
This ruling applies to all flights leaving or arriving in the US which were booked directly with the airline a week or more before the departure date.
" If you believe that your ticket purchase falls within these parameters, you can choose to cancel your current ticket and rebook the flight at the cheaper price."
You should always make sure to cancel your current seat only once you have secured your new seat at a cheaper cost. This way, you won't get stuck without any seats if there are none available or if the price suddenly changes again.
So, your first step in this situation is to check if your purchase time still falls within the 24-hour marker; if so, the procedure will be relatively smooth, and you should be able to get your new seat at a lower price while keeping hold of the refunded difference.
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Can you get a refund on flight costs from an OTA if the price of the fare drops?
Warning – The process may be more complicated if you have purchased your tickets from an Online Travel Agency rather than directly from the airline.
OTAs do have their own version of a "24-hour rule", but their policies and qualifications can vary from company to company. You should also remember that even if you've booked through an OTA, you will still need to qualify according to the airline's flight refund cancellation policy for a full cancelled flight refund to be enacted.
Certain OTA's will also be in the habit of charging a cancellation or ticket change fee, so you should factor this in to decide if you will still be saving money on your new ticket purchase.
Here is a breakdown of the leading OTA's 24-hour cancellation policies.
- Full refund on flight costs with no added fees
- Expedia has no cancellation fees of its own, so you will only be asked to pay the cancellation fees levied by the airline.
- If you have booked a non-refundable flight, you may receive travel credits.
- Full refund with no added fees
- $30 cancellation or ticket change fee.
- You will also have to factor in the cancellation fees of the airline.
- Refunded tickets can take up to 45 days to reach your account.
- If you have cancelled a non-refundable flight, you may receive payment in travel credit.
- Full Refund with no added fees
- No cancellation fees of their own, but you will have to pay the cancellation fees of the airline.
- Some bookings with low-cost carriers may be completely non-refundable; you should check with Priceline to discover whether this is the case.
As you can see, even if you have booked with an OTA, you will still be at the mercy of airlines regarding whether your refund request falls within the 24 hours and the type of cancellation fees you will be expected to pay.
Do all US Airlines offer the 24-hour rule?
Generally, the 24-hour rule applies to all flights leaving or entering the US, even with lower-cost budget airlines. But there are some notable exceptions that you should be aware of.
- The ruling does not cover ticket bookings made less than a week before the flight's departure.
- This policy only applies to flights purchased directly from the airline; tickets purchased from OTAs and other agencies will be subject to their own company rules and regulations.
- Under the DOT ruling, Airlines have to offer either putting a hold on your fare for 24 hours or a refund. But they do not have to offer you both. If you initially decide to go for a fare hold, then as far as the airline is concerned, they have met the DOT policy and are under no obligation to then also give you a refund if you change your mind.
What if you booked your flight using a foreign booking portal? Can you still get a cancelled flight refund?
One easy travel hack to save money on flights is to use foreign OTA providers who may be able to offer you lower prices than you would get in the US. This is all well and good until you need to cancel!
Refund and cancellation policies will be different from country to country, and you will need to abide by them and follow their regulations when looking to make a cancellation.
If you are trying to book a US flight using a foreign OTA portal and do not find favourable cancellation policies, it might be better to play it safe and book using a US provider.
What should you do if you are trying to cancel a ticket within 24 hours and the airline is refusing to issue a refund on flight costs?
If you are having trouble getting the airline to agree to a refund, even though you are cancelling within 24 hours, you should inform them that you are planning to file a complaint with the DOT as they are in direct violation of federal policy.
It is just possible that this demonstration of your knowledge of your rights and willingness to get through with a complaint may influence a further discussion. If not, you will need to follow through and contact the Department of Transportation.
Summary - How to get a Refund when your Fare Drops After Purchase
So, as you can see, when trying to get a refund on a ticket that has been subject to a price drop, time is of the essence. You should double-check the exact time your payment was processed and calculate if you still fall within the 24-hour rule.
If so, Airlines are obligated by federal law to refund flights in and out of the US that fall within this time and have been booked over a week before the date of departure. Things get a little more complicated if you have booked through an OTA, but it is still possible for you to reclaim your money. If you have purchased an airline ticket using a foreign OTA portal or bought your ticket less than a week before you are asking for a refund, you will be in a much more difficult position.
The best way to ensure that airlines follow through on their refund policies is to do your research, know your rights, and communicate with them quickly and confidently.