Refund Airline Tickets | How Do You Get Your Money Back?

In a few ways, traveling is like investing.  You watch for the price trends, anticipate future prices, and then eventually you lock in your price by buying your tickets.

Well, not really.  Most people just remember, hey I forgot to buy plane tickets, so they jump online and buy the tickets.

One of the worst feelings when you book travel is buying an airline ticket and then finding out that the price has dropped.

How Do You Get A Refund For Airline Tickets?

When purchasing plane tickets, you need to go ahead and add a value to your ticket purchase price depending on the refund policy of each individual airline.

In other words, some airlines are a better deal simply because they have a better cancellation policy.

For example, in the States, Southwest Airlines has one of the best airline policies.  When you buy a ticket on Southwest, if they drop the price on that ticket you can simply cancel your first itinerary and repurchase it at the lower price.  In fact I recently saved $500 by using my own lowest price guarantee with Southwest.  You will then end up with a travel voucher for the difference in price.  That voucher can be applied to future air tickets.

Even if you decide not to take your trip and you cancel your flight, that money will be changed into a voucher that you can use for an upcoming flight.

When my wife and I have had unpredictable travel plans (i.e. flying only days after the birth of our son), we have purchased via Southwest because we could cancel if our plans did not work according to schedule.

Here’s a helpful list provided by Yapta for airlines with the best policies in terms of price drops:

Airlines that offer refunds for any price drop = Alaska Airlines and Jet Blue Airlines

Airlines that offer a compensation for a price drop of $75 or more = AirTran and Virgin America

Airlines that offer a money back for a price drop of $100 or more = Haawian Airlines and Midwest Airlines

Airlines that offer it for a price drop of $150 or more = American, Delta, Continental, US Airways, and United.

Here is a full list of airline rebooking fees for both domestic and international travel.

Of course, another way to get a refund for airline tickets is to purchase travel insurance or trip cancellation insurance.

While your travel insurance won’t cover changes in price, they will refund airline tickets if you are forced to cancel your trip for a qualifying reason.

Your ticket class impacts your ability to get a refund.

Typically, the cheaper your ticket, the less likely you are to get a refund.  Most airlines do have a ticket class that is fully refundable.  Just remember, you are going to pay 2-3 trips cost just to get the one ticket that is refundable. Can Help You Get A Refund On Airline Tickets

Anytime you purchase a plane ticket, sign into your Yapta account and enter your flight information.  Yapta will then monitor the pricing of that flight.  If the fare drops, you will be contacted so that you can get your refund (if you purchase through an airline with a qualifying refund policy).

Even if you don’t get a refund, by entering your ticket information it can help you track trends for future travel.  Over time, you will notice a pattern of when your destinations seem to go on sale.

Have you ever had to get a refund on airline tickets?  What other refund airline tickets tips do you have?


  1. Diana says

    Hi craig!
    Nice blog! I visit your site often to check on credit card deals. In fact my husband applied for the AA card after looking at ur blog.
    A year ago, we had to cancel our out of country travel plans due to an emergency health condition. We had booked through Singapore and southwest. Once we submitted a doc’s certificate, s’pore airlines refunded the money without any question. However we got vouchers from southwest. But later when we explained our situation to southwest, they cancelled our vouchers and refunded the money back to the credit card. Sometimes a valid doctor’s certificate is all you need if its health related.

  2. Lori Betty says

    non refundable, and jumped through their hoops first by fax and then by mail, just to get a letter stating no, but we have vouchers that are completely useless to us and they are non tranferable so we can’t sell them and the vouchers are a 150,00 less per person so I think 300.00 for cancelling is a big amount, which I have to pay back on my mom’s credit card that i can’t afford and the balance of the tickets..1100 and speaking of the vouchers they haven;t sent any. Lori

    • says

      I’m so sorry for your situation, but as you mentioned there is nothing more that can be done and it seems to me that Alaska is honoring their terms and conditions for a non-refundable flight.

  3. isabel says

    I am waiting for my money that I have to cancell my trip on Korean airlines it’s been almost a week and still my money that they promise to put it back on my credit card still not there

  4. Gonzalo says

    Hi Craig, so here my issue.

    I have a flight with AA and I want to cancel and get the refund. BUT, I have not the chance:

    Your refund request cannot be processed.
    The refund request you submitted is for a non-refundable ticket. In some cases, you may be able to apply this value towards the purchase of another non-refundable ticket. Certain restrictions and fees apply. Please call American Airlines Reservations at 1-800-433-7300 for further assistance.

    I have heard that if you lose any relative such as parents or sons and daughters you can get the refund of the ticket exceptionally. This is kind of immoral, but losing around 800$ is also quite painful these days..

    Thanks for any help.

    • says

      Unfortunately, American doesn’t offer a full 100% refund on a cancelled flight. I’m not sure what you mean by “I have heard that if you lose any relative such as parents or sons and daughters you can get the refund of the ticket exceptionally. This is kind of immoral, but losing around 800$ is also quite painful these days..”
      If you’d clarify that statement I’d be glad to address it.

  5. macolm says

    We booked tickets to go to Rome and Dublin but something really important came up with my partner and he is unable to go. We got the tickets from air Canada and air Linus but we are not sure how to get our money back. What should we do?

    • says

      Did you have any type of travel insurance? If so I’d start there. If not call the airlines and ask about the cancellation policy. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get any money back if you purchase discounted tickets. Sorry this I don’t have better news.

  6. Chris Perez says

    My Mom purchased 7 tickets and paid 3400 last oct. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. When I went to cancel them AA said they would charge 200+ per ticked for canceling and the rest for a voucher to be used before October this year…….apparently they feel she will be better by then and while I would like to think they are hopeful in the situation I fell they would rather just make 100 percent profit on the 3500.00. Do you feel local and social media would put enough pressure on them to get some kind of a refund?

    • says

      If you purchased non-refundable tickets and didn’t purchase travel insurance then it sounds like AA is honoring the original terms when you made the purchase. However, the greasy wheel does still get the oil.

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