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Andreas Nieto Porras / Flickr

How to Ninja Lock in Your Fare for 48 Hours


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Three months of searching and you’ve finally found the perfect price point: but you need to check with your boss, get the time off and make sure your bestie is still down to go.

Just so let’s be clear: almost all of the major U.S. airlines will allow you a full refund for 24 hours after you buy the ticket. The only exceptions are JetBlue, which doesn’t allow you an “I made an oopsie, can I have my money back, please?” at all, and Airtran, who only gives you four hours to change your mind. (Southwest only offers it if you make the reservation by phone.) Thankfully, though aside from these few, even Travelocity and Expedia have also apparently jumped on the bandwagon, though I can find no fine print to validate the latter.

It extends past buyer’s remorse, too. If you actually manage to find a cheaper fare within 24 hours of booking your flight, then you’re in luck. Chances are, with price fluctuations, there’s a chance you could even end up saving some money. (I once saved $10, but hey, $10 is $10.)

The initial 24-hour grace period buys you about a whole day to take care of reservations, but you can buy up to almost an extra 24 hours on American and United if you play it right – and without plunking down your credit card information.

American offers a free 24-hour hold when you’re making your reservation on top of that. Once you finish making your itinerary, the payment page will offer you a chance to pay by credit card or put it on hold. (For example, see that beautiful and gorgeous option to the right.)

Once you select it to put it on hold, you are also allowed the 24-hour grace period after you buy the ticket giving you a full 48 hours. Though there used to be in the past, there’s no way to lock it in after that.

To do this on United is a bit trickier, however, but possible. United actually offers a paid FareLock option to lock in the price for three or seven days, depending on how wishy-washy the person you’re still waiting on is (the cost fluctuates, but doesn’t seem to go above $20). But because you’re reading this blog, you’ll know there’s a way around that.

The best way to get the 24-hour hold period comes courtesy of Flyertalk user palmetto86. Basically, go through the normal online reservation process until you reach the payment page. Once you’re there, select the right-hand most option “Cash” and select to pay at an “Airport Ticket Office.” The website will then hold the flight until midnight the next day (with some good timing, you may even get 47 hours and 59 minutes!).

Once you’re ready to pay, just go on the website and pay like normal through credit card. You’ll skip any fee that might be charged through cash and you’ll also have the additional 24 hours afterward. Kinda ingenious, no?

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  • Rashawn

    That part about jetBlue isn’t true. November 2012 I booked, then got my money refunded 3 times over my indecision on which flight I should take from Boston to Long Beach or Los Angeles for my trip in January 2013. I could a full cash refund straight to my debit card 3 times in that same week before I finally came to my decision. Where did you check your facts?

    • http://maphappy.org/ Erica Ho

      That could be our mistake, since policies are always changing. Anyways, JetBlue (right now, at least) does let you do this as long as the flight does not depart within 7 days.

  • http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/ Luvvie

    Tip for British Airways tickets: find the flights you want, go through the booking process and when it gets to the point where you need to pay, choose the “pay in person” option. Will lock it in for 48 hours and you can call them on the phone to make the payment. I just did that the other day for an international flight. Saved me $200+

    • http://maphappy.org/ Erica Ho

      Didn’t also know this worked for BA! Thanks!




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