Here is an update to an older post about the cancellation policies of several airlines.
The Flight Deal is about spontaneous and flexible travel to interesting destinations. We’ve published a lot of great fares that expire quickly. For most of you, the ability to take advantage of these deals is sometimes challenging due to the lag time required to coordinate with significant others or friends.
The team here has a book-now-ask-later policy. Why? Well, we usually book on the carrier website and take advantage of their generous cancellation or hold policies.
- American: 24 Hour Hold
- Delta: 24 Hour Risk Free Cancellation
- JetBlue: 24 Hour Risk Free Cancellation
- United: 24 Hour Risk Free Cancellation
- US Airways: 24 Hour Risk Free Cancellation
- Virgin Atlantic: 24 Hour Risk Free Cancellation
- Others – see below for Department of Transportation Regulations
American Airlines allows you to HOLD a reservation for 24 hours for free. As long as you purchase before the HOLD expires, American will guarantee the price if it goes up. This is probably the most generous policy out there since it requires no money out of pocket. Starting at $5, American also offers holds for up to 7 days.
American does not offer a 24 hour risk free cancellation policy unlike Delta, United, or US Airways.
One caveat: if you HOLD multiple reservations with the same dates, American will run a sweep at midnight and cancel them all. To avoid such a situation, HOLD the reservations without being logged in on the AA.com site.
Read more on AA.com for their hold feature.
Delta offers a 24 hour risk free cancellation policy. If you buy a ticket from Delta.com, you have 24 hours to cancel without penalty and you will receive a refund in your original form of payment. This policy applies to refundable as well as to non-refundable fares.
Unlike American, Delta does not offer the ability to hold a fare.
Read more on Delta.com for their cancellation policy.
JetBlue offers a 24 hour risk free cancellation policy if the travel was booked seven (7) or more days before the departure date.
Like Delta, JetBlue does not allow you to HOLD reservations.
Read more on JetBlue.com for their cancellation policy.
United offers a 24 hour risk free cancellation policy. If you buy a ticket from United.com, you have 24 hours to cancel without penalty and you will receive a refund in your original form of payment. This policy applies to refundable as well as non-refundable fares.
Unlike American, United does not offer the ability to hold a fare except for a nonrefundable fee under their FareLock service.
Read more on United.com for their cancellation policy.
US Airways will allow a customer to cancel a purchased ticket for a full refund without penalty for up to 24 hours after purchase. This policy applies to refundable as well as non-refundable fares.
Unlike American, US Airways does not offer the ability to hold a fare.
Read more on USAirways.com for cancellation policy.
Virgin America allows a customer to cancel a purchased ticket for a full refund without penalty for up to 24 hours after purchase.
Virgin allows you to HOLD a reservation for 24 hours for free if booking through their 800 number but not on VirginAmerica.com. Virgin will cancel the hold if full payment is not received within 24 hours of holding the fare.
Read more on VirginAmerica.com for their cancellation policy.
US Department of Transportation Regulations
In addition, earlier this year the Department of Transportation enacted a new rule with regards to reservations and cancellations — 14 CFR 259.5. According to the rule, if a reservation is made more than 7 days in advance with an airline with flights originating or flying into the US, the reservation must be held for the quoted price for 24 hours without cancellation or price increase. The full DOT guideline can be found here on page 14.
The bottom line?
On the scale of customer friendliness, American has the best policy for pre-purchases while all the other carriers have a better policy for post-purchases. In the end, these cancellation policies allow us more time to think about the deal and whether or not to take advantage of them.
The Flight Deal does not sell travel products or services. We provide you with information about third-party travel suppliers’ offers, and link you to their sites. The information posted by The Flight Deal is valid at the time of publication. However, we have no control over the suppliers, and we therefore do not warrant or guarantee that their offers will not change or become unavailable. Nor are we responsible for their products, services or site content. Please see their sites for their most up-to-date offer information and all applicable terms and conditions.