Some Airlines Make It Awfully Tricky To Get A Refund Within 24 Hours Of Buying A Ticket

It’s important to know your rights when it comes to airline travel, or you could be missing out on getting a full refund on a fare you don’t need. We’ve reported before on the Department of Transportation regulation that requires airlines to give customers a full refund within 24 hours of booking a flight (if it’s booked a week or more beforehand), but some airlines make it really difficult for you to do that.

The DOT’s rule states: “Passengers will be able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.”

Spirit Airlines founds itself in hot water earlier when it decided to institute a tricky “Dept. Of Transportation Unintended Consequences Fee” that made it sound like the DOT was the one charging $2 if you want a refund on your ticket. One customer sued, saying that was fraud because it was just Spirit who wanted money to “cover the costs of this misguided and expensive regulation.”

Since the rule says airlines either have to let passengers “hold” a reservation or “cancel” one that was already made, each different company adheres to the rule in different ways, points out the Chicago Tribune. That means you might have a few hoops to jump through.

• At American Airlines, your reservation is considered to be on hold for 24 hours after it’s made. Customers booking with American will see a “free 24-hour hold” when going through the payment options for their flights, which makes it pretty easy.
United Airlines offers a 24-hour cancellation period instead, but your credit card will be charged in the meantime. When you need to cancel, you have to know about its refund Web page.
Delta has a risk-free cancellation policy — click here for more information on how it works.

No matter your airline, if it’s originating in the U.S., simply search the Web for “[Airline name] 24-hour cancellation fee” and you should be able to find the appropriate channel as long as you’re still in that 24-hour window. Can’t find it or having trouble with a reservation you made? Let us know: tips@consumerist.com
Plane refund? If you’re fast [Chicago Tribune]