I tried to rebook a companion ticket — reader mistake story

Dec 16, 2019

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Edward, who misunderstood the cancellation policy for an airline companion fare:

I booked a flight using the Delta Platinum companion certificate, but then saw the price go down slightly just a few hours later. I thought the companion certificate would have the same kind of cancellation policy as regular tickets, and that it would go back into my account after cancelling within the 24-hour window, so I decided to cancel with the hopes of rebooking at the lower price.

It turns out the companion certificate is a one-time deal and does not get put back into your account! I clearly did not read the fine print before booking, and now I’m out of a companion certificate for this year. I am thankful to have enough SkyMiles in my account to rebook the flight, but it was still a big loss on my part. I will have to wait until next year to use it (if I can get around the restrictions). I hope this helps fellow travelers in the future.

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24-hour cancellation policies give you flexibility to change your mind about a ticket purchase if your plans fall through, and the opportunity to save money if prices go down soon after you buy. However, these policies do not extend to airline companion tickets, which have their own rules pertaining to changes and cancellations. The terms and conditions for Delta companion certificates specify that they will not be reissued upon cancellation, so you only get one shot to redeem them. Similar rules apply to other companion tickets like the Alaska Airlines companion fare, but those rules aren’t universal. For example, the British Airways Travel Together ticket can be reissued to your account if travel with a companion is canceled more than 24 hours before departure.

The takeaway is that when redeeming a companion certificate (or any ticket) with restrictive change and cancellation policies, you should wait to redeem until you’re confident in your travel plans and satisfied with the price. This story also shows the stark contrast between most companion tickets and the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to simply add your companion to any flight so long as there’s an open seat. You can also remove your companion (or switch to another companion) without putting your pass at risk. That flexibility and ease of use is why the Companion Pass is widely considered among the most valuable travel rewards available.

Related: Does travel insurance apply to companion tickets?

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Edward a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Ben Mutzabaugh/The Points Guy.

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