What happens if you cancel or change your flight due to unforeseen circumstances? Airlines require that you pay a hefty fee or suffer a total loss, but there are some loopholes and workarounds.
In the past, if you had a verifiable illness or accident, with something as irrefutable as an emergency room admission complete with doctor’s note, an airline would take pity on you and refund your ticket. This doesn’t work as often these days, as too many people faked medical emergencies.
We once had a client that claimed he couldn’t fly because he had a heart condition, and proffered a note from a plastic surgeon. Good try!
Many airlines will only issue a refund if you or a traveling companion on the same reservation dies–and only on presentation of the death certificate.
Many frequent travelers aren’t aware that The United States Department of Transportation allows you to change or cancel your reservation within 24 hours of booking without paying a cancellation fee.
After 24 hours, refunds are harder to get.
Most tickets purchased through Cook Travel are eligible for a refund. This means it is sometimes better to lock in a ticket that will save you thousands of dollars, even if you’re not certain yet those are the dates you will be traveling.
All that’s at stake is a cancellation fee.
The penalty for a refund on an international ticket is around $500, and domestic tickets (usually non-refundable when purchased directly from the airline) can be refunded for as low as $100.
Ironically, this means it is sometimes better to lock in a ticket that will save you thousands of dollars, even if you’re not certain yet those are the dates you will be traveling, when all that is at stake is a $100 cancellation fee.
Occasionally a ticket will be so discounted by the airline that they do not offer refunds, but many airlines will give credit towards future flights instead of refunds. To know what kind of ticket you are buying, ask your agent about refund eligibility.
Air Canada is waiving all change fees on tickets purchased between March 4 and March 31, 2020. Air Canada will allow them to make a one-time change to their flight without incurring a change fee up to 14 days before travel.
Delta is waiving all change fees on tickets purchased between March 1 and March 31.
Other airlines are following suit.