Every once in a while, I need to make a speculative revenue booking and I’m faced with a choice. Do I book with the airline directly or do I book with an OTA (Online Travel Agent) like Expedia or Travelocity?
Unless the OTA is providing a significant Cash Back Opportunity, more often than not, I am booking directly with the airline and the reason is simple.
If I need to cancel my booking, it is much more straightforward with the airline than it can be with an OTA. OTAs tend to deal with airfares, car rentals, hotels, cruises and vacation packages and quite honestly don’t make much in terms of commission for airline tickets so my experience has been that cancelling a flight with an OTA can be a time consuming and painful process. If you’ve ever had to call into Expedia or Travelocity while on vacation, you’ll understand what I mean.
On the flip side, airlines deal with one thing (for the most part) and that’s flights. Their systems are much simpler and automated than that of an OTA and for that reason, I tend to book with the airline directly for my speculative (ie. don’t know if I’m actually going to fly) bookings.
Most airlines allow for 24 hour cancellation at no fee. Here is a list of airlines that Canadians are most likely to fly, their policy and a link to that policy:
Air Canada – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service
Alaska Airlines – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service
British Airways – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service
Delta Airlines – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service
KLM – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service
Porter Airlines – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service
WestJet – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service
American Airlines – free cancellation within 24 hours if you book at least 7 days prior to departure
Air Transat – not free and depends on what and when you are cancelling … it’s complicated.
Sunwing – not free and depends on what and when you are cancelling … it’s complicated.
How to Cancel with Air Canada within 24 Hours
Yesterday I had to make a speculative booking for my wife and later than night she decided to cancel the trip. Luckily I booked on Air Canada so I documented all the steps to cancel.
It’s actually quite simple.
The first thing you want to do is go to Air Canada’s site at www.aircanada.com and click on My Bookings. Here you will enter the Booking Reference (PNR) that you would have received via email as part of your ticket/receipt and your Last Name.
You will then be logged into your flight dashboard. From here you will click on Cancel Booking on the right hand side of the page.
You will then be taken to a page that provides you the terms associated with the cancellation as well as being asked to confirm your email address.
As a security feature, you may be asked to provide the credit card number that you used to book the flight so that some random person that managed to get a hold of your PNR can’t just cancel your ticket.
Once you fill in the credit card information, your ticket is cancelled. If the charge went through on your credit card, a refund will be issued. If the charge has not cleared your credit card, then Air Canada will notify the credit card that the charge should not be put through.
It’s really that easy.
I will say that you should always take the stance of “trust but verify” with the airline so watch your credit card statements or check your charges online to make sure you haven’t been charged. If you are a person that wants to have all the evidence possible, take screenshots so you can prove your intent if you ever have to escalate the matter.
A lot of people don’t know that in most cases you have a full 24 hours to cancel your flight for free because the airlines don’t advertise it very much but if you are ever in a situation where you might need to make a speculative booking then rest assured that you are protected … at least for 24 hours.
This is incredibly useful information to have if you hare planning on jumping on one of those crazy seat sales that gets you to Europe for under $500 but don’t know if you can sell your wife on it or get time off work.
I’m trying to figure out if I can cancel my ticket with Air Transat and can’t see anywhere where they state that expicitly. Now, I am far too lazy to read the entire page that you posted so I’m going to take your word for it 😉
Air Transat’s term that you need to look at is Section 8. Cheers.
The information about Air Transat given here is incorrect. We are currently arranging some flights and was told by an agent that there is no 24 hour cancellation period. Also, Section 8 of their policies says nothing about it. Be absolutely sure before you book Air Transat.
Thank you for your comment. This must be a new change to Air Transat’s policy. I was horrified that I could have potentially led someone down the wrong path but after a quick search, others were also quoting the Air Transat policy which allowed cancelations within 24 hours as long as you were at least 7 days out from the day of travel (https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g1-i10702-k10539867-24_hr_cancellation_policy_outside_US-Air_Travel.html).
This is obviously a big negative which dilutes the rights of passengers.
If you managed to take a screenshot of the policy prior to the change, I would recommend you dispute the charge through your credit card company. I’m no lawyer but I’m almost positive that both parties (you and Air Transat) agree to abide by the terms that are in place on the date of purchase. As this is a contract, neither party can make a material change to the contract without consent from the other party. If you made the purchase when the cancellation policy stated that it was free within 24 hours, you certainly have a legitimate complaint.
I will update the post. Cheers
I bought package from Expedia flight + hotel and my plans changed so I had to cancel flight and hotel, I got full refund from hotel and my airline company westjet was nonrefundable so they send me their credits but I don’t know where to find those credits or where they have been send to if someone can help.
I’d assume the credits would be sent to your email. Definitely call Expedia.
Hello, thanks for your article, quick question.
Just to clarify: “Air Canada – free cancellation within 24 hours of booking for any class of service”
– does this mean that all tickets will be fully refunded within 24hrs, even if they are an Economy Basic (non-refundable ticket)?
– or does it mean only fully-refundable (economy or business class) tickets?
We booked a family vacation to Greece. We are boarding a Yacht 2 days after we arrive in Athens. Now I see terrible reviews about Air Transat. It is a LONG flight Vancouver to Athens. I am a nervous wreck that our vacation will be wrecked and we will not make it to our boat.
Looks to be a lot of long delays and cancellations of flights?
What do you suggest we do?
The deal with Air Transat is that the full refund within 24 hr rule (+7 days before departure) only applies for US flights, because the US has made it mandatory.
Time to add Flair Airlines – they also offer full refunds within 24 hrs.