When Airfare Drops, Get a Refund

Yes, you can get money back from the airlines and save on airfare.

ByABC News
May 13, 2010, 4:29 PM

May 14, 2010— -- Sandy Lockleer recently spent $1,132 on roundtrip airline tickets for himself and his wife to fly from Seattle to Alaska in August. Then, the other day, the price dropped to $952.

Out of luck? Not quite.

After a quick call to the airline, Lockleer ended up with a $180 credit, good on any Alaska Airlines flight in the next year.

"It took about 10 minutes to do the whole thing. That's a pretty good savings," he said. "Any time you can get money from an airline, you're doing good."

Lockleer took advantage of a little-known provision in the world of airline tickets that allows passengers to rebook their exact same flights if the price drops after they make a purchase.

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Now, before you race to the phone and try to get some money back, there is a catch: most airlines charge a hefty fee to get such refunds. Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest don't charge anything to take advantage of a price drop, while other airlines charge $75 to $150 for domestic tickets, and more for international flights. So the price needs to drop more than that change fee in order for you to take advantage of the lower fare.

None of the airlines actually gives you cash back; instead you get a credit good for travel on one of their flights in the next 12 months.

Lockleer has been re-checking airfares for about five years, looking for price drops.

"Oftentimes, I don't get anything back. You just get lucky some times. Every penny helps," he said. "I'm surprised more people don't know about this. I tell everybody I know."