Travel experts at Next Vacay reveal that searches for ‘cancelable flights’, ‘book refundable flight tickets’ and ‘free cancelation flight booking’ have increased by 400%.
The first thing to know is that the US Department of Transportation mandates that regardless of airline, all customers have 24 hours from the time of their original booking to cancel their reservation without being charged a cancellation fee if:
- you are flying to or from the U.S.
- you booked with the airline directly
- you booked seven days ahead of your departure date
After the 24-hour-window, cancellation policies vary by airline. For basic economy, or non-refundable tickets, here are how different they look across airlines:
Most flexible airlines for cancellations
Delta Air Lines
For travel booked through December 31, 2021, while Basic Economy tickets are normally non-changeable, you can adjust your flight without a fee. If you cancel your flight, you will receive an e-credit. For tickets for travel in 2022, flights remain non-refundable and non-changeable.
If you cancel a non-refundable ticket, the value of the ticket becomes a travel fund (store credit) that you can use to buy a future flight. If you don’t cancel at least 10 minutes before your flight time, you are no longer eligible to receive credit.
Change and cancel fees are waived on Blue Basic bookings made Aug 25-Oct 31 2021 and prior to Jun 7, 2021. Blue Basic fares booked Jun 8-Aug 24 2021 are subject to a change fee of $100 for travel within the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America, or $200 for all other routes.
Least flexible airlines for cancellations
If you cancel a Basic Economy ticket after the 24-hour window, you do not pay a cancellation fee, but you also don’t get your money back.
Basic Economy fares bought on or after April 1, 2021, are non-refundable and non-changeable.
For all ticket types, changes can be made up to an hour before departure. Here are the current change and cancellation charges:
0-6 days from departure
7-14 days from departure
15-59 days from departure
60+ days from departure
Naveen Dittakavi, founder and CEO of Next Vacay comments: “Now more than ever, travelers are looking for more flexibility when booking flights. We found there was a staggering 400% increase in searches for cancellable flights and refundable tickets. Here are some things to look out for when canceling your flight:
If your travel plans aren’t rock-solid make sure to book a refundable ticket. These tickets are at a higher price point but are a good option if you’re uncertain about your travel plans. Most airlines have their version of a “basic economy” ticket, which usually doesn’t offer much flexibility in terms of canceling or changing a flight.
Call the airline to speak directly with their staff as they’re often more flexible than doing it online and may provide you with an e-credit or voucher, or flexibility to change your travel dates. The agents may have more power to help you than if you navigate the process yourself online.
Don’t forget the 24-hour rule! If you find a cheaper flight within 24 hours of booking your original flight you can cancel for a full refund. The catch is that the flight has to be booked via the airline and it has to be at least 7 days before your departure date.
If you booked your flight with a credit card, many operators offer free flight changes and cancellations as part of the perk.
Travel insurance can cover costs if you need to cancel your trip. However, these are usually under very specific circumstances such as illness or injury. Make sure you read the fine print on what’s included on your travel insurance when you buy it.”