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
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.