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It’s now more important than ever to monitor your upcoming reservations

April 01, 2020
6 min read
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Ever since I started traveling, I always logged into my upcoming reservations every few weeks to check on them. Why? Because you never knew what'd happen — there could be schedule changes, aircraft swaps or reassigned seats. You don't want to be left with a new departure time or a middle seat without knowing about it.

But now, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, there's even more of a reason to monitor or "garden" your upcoming reservations. For flights in the short term, you're hopefully looking to reschedule or cancel them. If you're seeking a refund, you'll need to wait until the airline cancels your flight, which'll be easy to check if you're actively monitoring your reservation.

For travel later in the year, there's a good chance that there's been a change in schedule or aircraft operating your route. After all, airlines are changing timetables by the day and more and more airplanes are getting retired ahead of schedule. There are many reasons it's important to monitor your reservations, so let's dig into them now.

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Check to see if your flight's been changed or canceled

This one's pretty easy. When you book a flight, you're asked for your email and phone number. One of the reasons is for the airline to reach out to you in case there's something wrong with your flight.

While some airlines are quite good at notifying you of changes to your upcoming travel, others aren't, even if they have your contact information. And now, even the good airlines are slow to inform you about changes. They aren't necessarily being shady; they are just overwhelmed by customer requests.

(Photo by David-Prado/Getty Images)

That's why it's imperative that you check your upcoming reservations to see if your flight's been significantly changed or canceled. Chances are it has, as most airlines are operating skeleton schedules for the next few months (and in some cases, longer).

Related: Why you should wait until the last minute to get a refund for your flight

If it's been changed or canceled by the airline, then you qualify for a refund according to the Department of Transportation guidelines, as well as the major carriers' contracts of carriage.

Getting a refund for your flight

As I mentioned above, if your flight time's been significantly changed or the flight's been canceled entirely, you're eligible for a refund. By monitoring your reservations frequently, you'll know when exactly you qualify for your money back.

Related: Why you should think twice before accepting an airline voucher — even with a bonus

In the interim, airlines may try to convince you to take a travel voucher — but there's no reason to accept that, unless you're committed to flying with the carrier again in the near future (or there's a good bonus offer).

Related: You are entitled to a refund for your canceled flight — even if the airline says you aren’t

And it especially pays to check your reservation right up until departure time. That's because the airlines are trying their hardest to give as few refunds as possible.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If you make a voluntary change or cancellation to your flight, all the carrier owes you is a credit. But if they cancel your flight, then it's a refund. That's why I always recommend waiting to cancel your flight until just before departure.

Understand your ticket's expiration

When monitoring your reservation, one of the most important things to pay attention to is the ticket expiration date. Almost all airline tickets have some sort of expiration date — usually one year from when it was issued. And if you're planning to change your flight, you'll need to do so before (and sometimes complete travel by) that date.

Related: All about airline-ticket expiration policies

Likewise another thing to check is whether there's been an extension to ticket validity.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Some airlines, like JetBlue, are extending the validity of credits that you receive from a canceled flight to 18 months (instead of the normal 12). If that's the case, you may have more time to use the voucher you receive.

Know when it's time to call your airline

These days, getting in touch with an airline customer service representative can feel like you've just won the lottery. But, there's often no reason to dial the 1-800 number, unless you've seen something happen to your reservation. If your flights are still operating on schedule, chances are that a phone agent won't be able to offer you a refund or anything outside of the guidelines in the published travel waivers.

Related: When is it time to call your airline?

That's why it makes sense to actively stalk your reservations. Once you've seen a change or cancellation, that's when it's time to pick up the phone. After all, agents only have flexibility when there's been an involuntary change to your reservation.

Bottom line

The coronavirus is taking a massive toll on the world, and especially the travel industry. Now, more than ever, monitoring your reservations is of the utmost importance.

If you're looking to get a refund for your flight, you'll need to wait for the airline to change cancel your flight first. Furthermore, by monitoring your reservation, you'll know when exactly your ticket expires, all without calling an airline. Lastly, this strategy will help you know when it's time to call your airline — once you're noticed something changed in your reservation.

Featured image by NurPhoto via Getty Images

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
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  • Annual Fee

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases