How the Department of Tranportation's 24 Hour Reservation Requirement Impacts Travel
What is the 24 Hour Cancellation Rule?
In 2013, the Department of Transportation introduced a new mandate for all airlines that operate within the United States. This mandate states that U.S.-operating air carriers must give customers a 24 hour option that would allow for changes to a ticket or a refund of the ticket. This option can be broken down into two different general policies. The first of these is offering the ability for a customer to buy a ticket and then have at least 24 hours to contact the airline about changing or refunding the ticket. This option requires the ticket was booked at least 7 days before the departure date of the first flight. The second option, which many airlines are phasing out, is to give consumers the ability to put a 24 hour hold on a fare for free to decide if they would like to book it.
All airlines that operate within the U.S. are required to have one of these policies in place, however, it is important to find out which option they have in place before you book your travel. Airlines each have different rules, even in following one of the two options, some airlines are more forgiving than they are required and others stick to the mandate as closely as they can.
Why is this important for flight deals?
This mandate has a fairly large impact in the realm of flight deals, as it gives you added security when you find a deal. These rules allow you to either save the deal price of a flight for 24 hours or book the deal immediately when it's found and be allowed 24 hours to decide if you want to go on the trip. Because of this, you don't have to miss out on a great deal when you are unsure if you want to take that trip.
Airline Specific Policies
On Aeromexico, only tickets booked through Aeromexico's United States website are included in the 24 hour fare guarantee. Aeromexico will hold the price of a fare online for 24 hours and also will allow refunds or changes for free within 24 hours of booking if the fare was booked 7 days or more before the flight.
On Air Canada, you are able to cancel any booked fare within 24 hours of the purchase. You are only able to get refunded on flights booked directly through Air Canada, this does not include any online travel agencies or other airlines.
On Air France, you have 24 hours to cancel your booking for a refund. If this is done on the same day (before midnight) as the booking date, your bank account will not be debited, which means you won't be charged and the booking will be cancelled. If this is done the next day, but still within the 24 hour period, your bank account will be credited a full refund minus the non-refundable service charges, this could take a few days for the money to be available in your account.
On American Airlines, you are able to get a refund on flights within 24 hours of booking as long as you book the flight two days or more in advance. Some flights booked through American Airlines website also offer 24 hour price holds. For more information on American Airlines 24 hour holds, read on here.
On British Airways, you have 24 hours to cancel your reservation for a full refund if the travel was booked at least a week before the departure date. If the call center is closed when you first call, this can be extended to 48 hours.
On COPA, you are able to put a reservation on hold for 24 hours, but it is unlikely that you will be refunded within 24 hours of booking an itinerary without compelling reasoning.
On Delta, you can cancel and be refunded on any booked fare until midnight of the day after the purchase. If the flight is on the day of booking, you may cancel and refund your paid ticket until midnight of the same day. This only includes flights booked directly on Delta's website or app.
On InterJet, flights booked within 24 hours and 7 days or more before the first flight's departure can be cancelled and refunded with no penalties.
On JetBlue, reservations can be cancelled for a full refund within 24 hours of booking under the conditions that the travel was booked seven days or more before the departure date and you must cancel the entire booking. Bookings that have been changed are not eligible for refunds and may incur cancellation fees, even within 24 hours.
On KLM, you can cancel your booking within 24 hours to be reimbursed the full cost including fees. KLM also offers a price guarantee option, which holds the price of a deal for up to 3 days, for a small fee.
On United Airlines, you are able to get a refund if you purchased the ticket through United within 24 hours and it is a week or more away from the departure date.