Can I Rebook If the Price of My Flight Drops?

Airfare Question of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 7, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Airfare Question of the Month, booking strategy, Continental, Expedia, flight cancellation, Jessica Labrencis, Orbitz, Travelocity, Yapta.

Dear Jessica,

I booked two non-refundable tickets on Continental for travel in June. Four days later, the price dropped by $60. Can I cancel my flight and rebook at the lower price?
—L.F.

Dear L.F.,

As happens with most air-travel questions, the answer will vary by airline and by your specific situation. Generally, however, the answer is yes—with a few caveats.

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It's nearly impossible to snag a refund on a non-refundable ticket no matter what the situation. If the price drops after you book, however, your airline may give you a travel voucher for a future flight. That's where the first caveat comes in. Many airlines charge a hefty change fee, which could negate the voucher altogether. Notable exceptions include Southwest and JetBlue, which do not charge a change fee.

If you purchase your flight through an online travel supplier such as Expedia (and find a lower price within 24 hours, Expedia will credit or refund the difference and give you a travel coupon worth $50. That's where the second caveat comes in. The lower price must apply to the exact same itinerary as yours, not just the same cities and travel dates. Orbitz and Travelocity offer similar policies.

In your situation, however, you'd have to pay Continental's $150 change fee, which would end up costing you more than what you'd get in the form of a voucher.

Yapta offers a tracking tool that will alert you to significant price drops. That way, you'll know when to seek a voucher, and when it's not worth it. Yapta also details a handful of major airlines' ticket-change policies, which makes finding that information a heck of a lot easier than digging through your carrier's contract of carriage.

(Editor's Note: SmarterTravel is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Expedia.com.)

 
 
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