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.
Also, don’t forget about Priceline as you can get up to 96 hours to cancel if booking on a Friday. We covered this here in the AutoSlash blog:
WOW, I had no idea and I fly Alaska often. Thank you for this. What is the best way to keep tabs on price fluctuation in order to cash in on this perk?
@cheri Use Google Flights price alerts. It’s far and away the best option out there.
@Jonathan, thank you! It doesn’t appear to support Alaska price changes. Is there a search for that?
Never mind, the description did not list Alaska, but I see it in the search. Thanks for the tip!
@cheri Google Flights does support Alaska but does not support Southwest. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up tracking:
Unfortunately, there is no way I know of to automatically track Southwest flights at this time. You have to check those manually.
Alaska scores best again. Chill airline.
Imagine the gall of airlines wanting to charge you a $200 processing fee to save money.
I had a multi airline ticket coach class with both us air and Korean air. Korean charged nothing to change my departure date. US Air charged $200. I could have and should have taken the train for less than a hundred to replace the US air leg.
These tips are just superb. Thanks a lot for this valuable share. I love traveling to new places with my family and friends. Your post will help me a lot in my next journey.
Yapta will track ticket prices and send you an email if they fall below a certain threshold.
I’ve been using them for years on Alaska flights, and have saved hundreds of dollars. I get the email, I call Alaska up, and they throw the price difference into my account’s “My Wallet”. The process is super easy.
I booked a flight on Alaska to Maui several months in advance and decided to check the fare a couple of days before departure and noticed the fare had stopped. I simply completed an online form and was notified immediately that I would receive a credit of about $200. It was easy to do and a sign of good customer service.