The US Department of Transportation has been a proponent of a number of consumer-friendly guidelines. One of them is the requirement for all domestic and foreign air carriers to allow free cancellations or fare holds for 24 hours.
The rule kicks in for any carrier and for non-refundable tickets bought at least 7 days before the flight. The ticket must be domestic or be FROM the US.
The DOT requires airlines (and places where the airlines sell such services) to provide clear information about this option to consumers.
To comply with the regulation, carriers may not deceive consumers about the 24-hour reservation requirement when consumers inquire about cancelling or changing a reservation within 24 hours of making or paying for that reservation.
In a recent note, the DOT determined that not all carriers and OTAs comply with the rules set forth by the department.
Any website that is geared towards US consumers (this can a bit of a struggle to determine) is bound by that policy and needs to adhere to it.
Besides providing the option for a free cancellation, it is enough to provide a free 24-hour ‘fare-hold’ – like American Airlines does on its website.
On MightyTravels, we recommend you websites where you can buy our airfare deals. These are usually US customer-facing sites that DO provide the free 24-hour cancellation policy.
Here are the sites we have inquired with about the 24-hour free cancellation policy for non-refundable tickets:
Priceline offers a 24-hour free cancellation of flights departing from the US until 11:29PM EST the business day after booking. I myself have made use of it – it’s easy and can be all done online in seconds.
Depending on when you pressed the buy button, this constitutes up to 48 hours!
Priceline issues full refunds with no hidden fees.
The policy also applies for bookings within seven days before the flight (although the DOT does not require that).
If you plan to take advantage of a 24-hour guarantee without hassle, use Priceline.com for your booking.
CheapOair does not say much about a free 24-hour cancellation anywhere. However, if you call in, they are able to do that without hesitation. The refund includes any fees and should arrive within 7-10 business days.
Vayama lets you cancel tickets BEFORE they are ticketed or before 24 hours have lapsed – whichever comes earlier – if an airline tickets your reservation right away.
If the ticket is issued before 24 hours have lapsed, the company charges a $50 service charge for a cancellation until 24 hours have passed (then the ticket rules kick in).
OneTravel does not offer a 24-hour free cancellation period per se. OneTravel adds a service charge of $50 after 4 hours if you book online (although this can be avoided by calling in and ‘notating’ the itinerary with the agent). If the agent agrees to this, you will get 24-hour free cancellation.
Cancellation request must be made by midnight of the day after the eTicket is purchased or midnight of the departure date of the first flight, whichever comes first. Available only for eTickets purchased at the time of reservation through Delta ticket offices and airport ticket counters, Reservation Sales, or at delta.com.
Tickets purchased through united.com or the United Customer Contact Center in the last 24 hours may qualify for waiver of change or cancellation fees under our 24-hour flexible booking policy. In all other cases, please choose your refund type below and select Continue to begin the refund request process.
jetBlue shows off that it is the nice kid in town:
Customers will have 24 hours from the time of their original booking to cancel their reservation without being charged a cancellation fee if travel was booked seven (7) days or more prior to the departure date (not applicable for Getaways reservations). Bookings that have been changed are not eligible for a credit card refund and are subject to a cancellation fee, regardless of being within 24 hours of the original booking.
(Picture courtesy of wiseGEEK)