Years ago it was common to be able to request a credit when you bought a ticket, and the fare for the same flights dropped. Airlines used this to give you confidence buying and not waiting. You could lock in a price, protecting yourself against price increases, while not worrying that you might be overpaying.
Of course most people didn’t claim any money back. Most people buy a ticket and don’t check the price again later. Services popped up to automate this, and airlines because less customer-friendly.
However several airlines are still fairly flexible giving you credits back, which is why you should still check the price of your ticket several times after you’ve made your purchase. In fact, Dan’s Deals pointed out that one airline — United — does this that I hadn’t realized.
Airlines that give you a travel credit when your ticket price falls:
- Southwest Airlines will give you a travel credit when the price of your itinerary drops if you ask, no fee. That makes sense because they have no change fees, and you could just cancel your ticket and rebook and pocket a credit for the difference anyway.
- JetBlue will give you a travel credit when the price of your itinerary drops and you request it. This is free within 5 days of purchasing your ticket, or $75 is taken out of the credit after that (this fee is waived for elites).
- Alaska Airlines will give you a travel credit when the price of your itinerary drops and you request it.
- United will give you a credit when your fare drops, minus a $50 processing fee, within 30 days of buying your ticket. Some people report having the processing fee waived by phone agents, and others report having success beyond 30 days. This policy does not appear to be published online.
With Delta and American you’re going to have to pay the change fee on your ticket, usually $200, to get any difference in fare back. And price drops are almost never $200, making this practically useless with those carriers.
Of course within 24 hours of purchase in most cases you can refund tickets regardless of airline anyway, so if your ticket price falls right after you buy it the carrier’s credit policies won’t actually come into play.