Last Updated on November 7, 2019
Low-cost airlines have made it so easy for us to go on a vacation that we can fly almost everywhere these days at an affordable price. However, those cheap tickets are almost always non-refundable which can become a problem if you happen to have last-minute changes that will keep you from boarding your flight.
Nevertheless, it’s possible to refund plane tickets sometimes, and even if you can’t get the full value back you can often get a part of the price refunded as value toward a future ticket. For that to happen it’s important to be acquainted with how to book refundable flights.
#1 – The 24-hour rule that can get you a refund on plane tickets
Every airline operating in the United States of America must follow a simple rule designed by the Department of Transportation: Every person that has booked their flight one week before departure can cancel it for a period of 24 hours after purchase and must receive a full refund, independently of the kind of airplane ticket acquired.
#2 – This is the 24-Hour golden rule on how to book refundable flights.
This allows you to take on good travel opportunities when you spot them while still giving you the chance to look for a better deal.
However, this is the only easy way to get a refund on plane tickets since this is the best consumer protection deal available. Any other kind of cancelation can be a huge complication and this happens for countless reasons.
#3 – Universal airline rules for plane tickets’ refund
A voluntary refund is something that happens when you cancel a flight before the journey for an unforeseen reason. Domestic airlines in the US and Canada don’t really have rigid and standard policies on how to handle this situation.
As for other international airlines, the tendency is to have similar but not identical policies. So in order to make your life easier we took it upon ourselves to compile a list of policies for some of the most known airlines. If you are thinking about buying a ticket from one of them check the following list.
#4 – Fees for changing your plane ticket
The standard rule for nonrefundable tickets is almost universal and it tells you that you won’t get your money back. But there are alternatives and you can apply the dollar value of a canceled ticket toward the purchase of another ticket for a future trip usually within a year.
Big airlines don’t share the same policies, and the fees we are about to look at are usually applied to low-cost general/standard cabin fees. More expensive fares come with fewer limitations, but as far as North America is concerned, the Southwest refund policy is without a doubt the best fee policy available.
Southwest is the only airline in the U.S that offers this feature and the airline manages to be one of the best ranked in the country since it also offers two free checked bags.
∙American, United, and Delta, known as the “Big Three” have a similar way to deal with refunds and fees. Most of the nonrefundable fares are $200 for travel within the country and for international trips, it can go from $200 to $750.
∙Air Canada charges $50 for changes if you do 60 (or more) before your departure; within 60 days, they charge $100, and for a same-day airport change the fee goes up to $150.
∙If you travel with Alaska, they will charge a $125 charge fee.
∙Allegiant will charge you per segment, and you will have to pay $75 for each segment or double that amount for a round-trip.
∙Frontier won’t charge you anything as long as you make your changes within 60 days in advance or more. After that, they will charge you $79 for 14 days in advance, or $119 if you do it even closer to the departure date.
∙Hawaiian changes the fees depending on your destination. Within North America, they will charge you $200. On international flights, they will charge something between $50 and $300. And if you are flying within the islands of Hawaii they will only charge you $30.
∙JetBlue charges $75 if you purchase a cheap ticket of $100 or less. Then the prices will increase in proportion to the costs of your ticket, but the maximum fee is $200 for a ticket of $200 or more.
∙Spirit Airlines will allow you to retain value until a week before your trip for $90 online, or $100 by phone.
∙WestJet charges $25 on domestic flights (U.S) if you do it more than 60 days before departure; after that, the price goes up to $85. European routes and flights have higher prices.
So there isn’t one answer to the question “Can I cancel a flight and get a refund?” since every company has their own airline ticket cancellation policy, but as you can see, if you check nonrefundable airline ticket rules you can still manage to find a way to not let all of your money go to waste.
All airlines treat the new “basic economy” fares as nonrefundable so you are faced with a classic case of “use it or lose it”.
Canceling nonrefundable airline tickets is a big mistake since you can always find a way around it and use that money to purchase another ticket at your own convenience. So that is lesson number one on how to get money back on nonrefundable flights.
But, if the opposite scenario occurs and your airline is responsible for the cancelation, delay or any changes in your flight after you bought the ticket, the answer to the question “are plane tickets refundable?” changes, since in almost all cases the company owes you a full cash refund, or as they call it, an involuntary refund.
#5 – Bundled Travel Insurance
As you purchase your plane tickets you might have noticed that you are offered the possibility to buy airline ticket insurance at the moment of booking your ticket. The cancellation coverage costs between six and seven percent of the ticket value and the initial offer generally include the amount of the ticket price.
Airline Travel Insurance is usually more restrictive in the list of “covered reasons” for cancelations concentrating especially on accident and sickness.
In comparison with regular travel insurance, these policies show more restrictions in the list of covered reasons they allow you to check when canceling your flight, reducing it to, basically, sickness and accident.
According to Allianz, the entire ticket price must be covered and not only just the cancellation or change penalty.
But there have been many complaints saying that in the event of a medical problem or any other unexpected situations the insurance provider tries to get the clients to accept the only reimbursement for the change fees.
So make sure you read your airline tickets insurance policy to be well informed of your rights and to be able to stand your ground when making a claim.