How Rebooking a Flight Saved Me $475 — Reader Success Story

Nov 7, 2018

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Bill, who took advantage of cancellation policies when the cost of airfare dropped:

After reading the recent mistake story about a 24-hour cancellation, I thought it was fitting to share my success with the same policy.

My wife and I decided to take our children to London for Thanksgiving. I booked our family of four from New York-JFK to London-Gatwick (LGW) on Norwegian departing Tuesday and returning Saturday for $1,766. I would have preferred to take an extra day and return on Sunday, but because of the cost different between Saturday and Sunday flights, coming back on Saturday was the better option.

The next morning I did a quick check of the flight prices and saw they had dropped. It appeared I would save $100 total by canceling and rebooking. Initially I wasn’t sure changing our tickets was worth it for $100, but I decided to go ahead and do so anyway. Good thing I did. Not only had the price dropped more than I thought, but also I was able to select my preferred outbound flight and return Sunday instead of Saturday for a total cost of just $1,291 — a savings I parlayed into a mid-December trip to Florida.

Typically, we look at the 24-hour cancellation policy as a defense against errors or buyer’s remorse, but sometimes it can save you big!

The cost of airfare is always fluctuating, and while prices tend to go up as the departure date approaches, they can also drop unexpectedly. That creates opportunities to save by taking advantage of 24-hour cancellation policies. You’re not likely to find dramatic price swings in one day, but as Bill’s story shows, they do happen. That’s why your search for flights shouldn’t end when you buy; I recommend looking at least once more before the cancellation window closes to see if you can rebook for less.

The caveat is that you should be clear about how the rules apply to your ticket before you try to maneuver toward a discount. The DOT policy is limited to flights purchased seven days or more from departure, and naturally, it only applies to flights operating to or from the United States. Some airlines surpass those requirements — American Airlines allows cancellations for flights purchased up to two days before departure — and some offer the option to put tickets on hold instead of cancel them after purchase. If you’re confident you can cancel, I suggest buying the cheaper ticket before refunding your original. That way you won’t be left hanging if the lower price isn’t really available.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Bill a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Heidi Sandstrom/Unsplash

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