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  • Writer's pictureRosanne Knorr

The 24-Hour Tip to Cut Flight Costs

This blog is dedicated to Scott Keyes whose online Scott’s Cheap Flights shares extraordinary deals on flights especially on those pricey international tickets. Remembering his most recent tip just helped me salvage a voucher to Italy worth almost $1000. But more on that later. Basically, the U.S. Department of Transportation has a rule which automatically creates a 24-hour grace period when you purchase a flight ticket. During those 24 hours you can cancel the ticket for a full cash refund -- even those ‘non-refundable’ economy tickets. The requirements: Flights can be foreign or domestic but must be to or from a US airport. The flight must be at least seven days in the future. And, it must have been booked directly with the airline, not an online agency. As long as that U.S. federal rule stays in place you have a handy way to book a flight and then cancel if you find a better one. And it gives you time to verify that a travel companion is (figuratively) onboard with the plans. Ensure that the flight fits the 24-hour requirement rules then you can grab the better deal to ensure it’s available; then immediately cancel the first ticket before the 24 hours are up. So how did the 24-hour rule help me? Leverage. I scheduled a flight with a covid voucher but got a one-way ticket and the online site wouldn’t allow a switch to round-trip. (Doing another one way was vastly more expensive!) When I finally got through on the phone, an airline rep said my ticket had used the voucher so she couldn’t give me the points back. I insisted, so she checked “a manager.” No deal. I insisted again. She checked again. Again, no deal. I remembered the trump card: “I just booked this an hour ago. I am well within the 24-hour rule, and I want the ticket cancelled and my voucher points returned so I can use those for the full round-trip.” She checked again. Trip cancelled and $980 back on a voucher. The round-trip to Italy is re-booked.

Thanks, Scott.

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