What happens when you buy an airfare and then discover that sometime before take-off the fare has dropped in price?
A Look at Price Drop Refund Policies by Airline
If the price dropped for the exact same travel dates, flight times, and the same class of fare, then some airlines will issue a travel credit for the difference in fare. However, most of those that will issue a refund are going to charge a fee for doing so.
If you happen to stumble upon a lower fare within 24 hours after you booked your flight, you can take advantage of the 24-hour rule for flights from or to the U.S. and get a full refund as long as your flight is at least 7 days away. This is the official Department of Transportation policy, but some airlines and third-party sites allow you to cancel for free even if it is less than 7 days prior to departure.
After 24 hours have passed since the original booking, only a few U.S.-based airlines will issue a full refund, in the form of a travel credit, depending on when the ticket is rebooked or canceled; and only one of those will issue a travel credit anytime up to 10 minutes prior to departure. The others charge anywhere from $50 (for a domestic fare) up to $750 (for an international one), which often wipes out any savings. And if you’ve purchased a Basic Economy fare, then you're out of luck.
Any travel credit issued is valid up to one year from the original date of purchase.
Note: This information applies to non-refundable fares only; fully refundable fares can be rebooked at any time, almost always without a fee, if the fare goes down. Also note that many airlines have temporarily adjusted their cancellation policies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember to check your carrier's website to see if your itinerary qualifies for these exceptions.
Will Alaska Airlines Refund if Price Drops?
Yes, for Main class fares and above. Alaska's price guarantee issues a refund equal to the price difference (if greater than $10) if you find a lower fare on the exact same itinerary somewhere else within 24 hours of booking. Alaska Airlines used to have one of the simplest and best policies in the industry, but have now adopted fees for the majority of its route network.
Alaska Airlines Change/Cancellation Fees
- No fees for flights wholly within the state of Alaska.
- $125 change/cancellation fee on all other routes.
Will Allegiant Refund if Price Drops?
Yes, a credit voucher good for future travel will be issued for qualifying changes/cancellations made within 48 hours of booking. For bookings made without Trip Flex, any changes must be made at least 7 days prior to scheduled departure. Although Allegiant’s policy states that a travel credit will be issued if there are any remaining funds, there would have to be a significant price drop for this to happen after all the associated fees. Since Allegiant’s fares are already very low, it’s unlikely you’ll ever actually get a travel credit.
Allegiant Change/Cancellation Fees
- $25 per person, per segment for bookings without Trip Flex.
- If Trip Flex was purchased during booking ($8-$20), no fee applies and changes can be made up to 1 hour prior to departure.
- Electronic Carrier Usage Charge (online booking fee; $18 per passenger, per segment) is not refunded with or without Trip Flex.
Will American Refund if Price Drops?
Yes, for Main Cabin Economy fares or above. Basic Economy fares cannot be changed more than 24 hours after booking.
American Airlines Change/Cancellation Fees
- American Airlines is no longer charging change fees for a majority of their domestic and short-haul international flights. Check their website for details to see if your flight qualifies.
Will Delta Refund If Price Drops?
Yes, for Main Cabin Economy fares or above. Basic Economy fares cannot be changed more than 24 hours after booking. Delta has a Low Fare Commitment, meaning that if you find a lower price on the same itinerary through another provider within this window, Delta will allow you to cancel your ticket for a full refund. Price adjustments after this 24 hour window are not available. If you cancel after 24 hours has past (and your ticket does not fall into one of Delta's new no cancellation fee categories), the $200 cancellation fee will be deducted from the original cost of your ticket and the remainder will be issued to you in the form of an eCredit.
Delta Change/Cancellation Fees
- $200 cancellation fee
- No change fees on Main Cabin fares or above
Will Frontier Refund If Price Drops?
No—however, if you’ve purchased the Works bundle during the initial booking, the ticket is refundable and a new ticket can be purchased at the lower rate. Although Frontier doesn’t issue any travel credits if you find a lower fare, it no longer charges a flight change fee for any changes made 60 days or more before departure.
Frontier Change/Cancellation Fees
- 7-59 days from departure: $49
- 6 days or less from departure: $79
Related: The 6 Best Flight Search Sites
Will Hawaiian Refund If Price Drops?
No—however, tickets can be cancelled for a full refund with no cancellation fee within 24 hours of booking. Hawaiian’s fare rules state that a “refund or credit will not be provided if a flight change is made and the applicable new fare is less than the original fare paid.”
Hawaiian Airlines Change/Cancellation Fee
- No change fee for Main Cabin, First Class, or Business Class fares
- $25-$100 cancellation fee on refundable tickets
Will JetBlue Refund If Price Drops?
Yes, JetBlue will issue a $50 credit and refund the fare difference if you find a lower price on your the exact same itinerary on the same day you purchase your original ticket. JetBlue's Best Fare Guarantee applies to flights originating in the U.S. The lower fare must be at least $5 less than what you paid and what is currently available on jetblue.com in order to receive the credit. If you need to make a change further out, there are no change or cancellation fees on fares other than Blue Basic—however you will not receive a refund for the price difference after the 24 hour window.
JetBlue Change/Cancellation Fees
- No fee if customer notifies JetBlue of price difference on the same day of original ticket purchase
- No change/cancellation fee on Blue, Blue Plus, Blue Extra, or Mint fares at any time
- $100-$200 change/cancellation fee for Blue Basic
- $25 fee per person for calling to make changes to a reservation through JetBlue Customer Support
Related: How Airfare Pricing Works
Will Spirit Refund If Price Drops?
No, spirit will not refund the difference should the price of your itinerary drop. However, if you cancel your reservation more than 60 days out from departure or within 24 hours of booking (for a flight that is more than 7 days away), you will not be charged a fee.
Spirit Change/Cancellation Fees
- 15-59 days from departure: $39
- 7-14 days from departure: $59
- 0-6 days from departure: $79
Will Southwest Refund If Price Drops?
Yes, the simplest policy there is. Just rebook your fare and a travel credit will be issued for any difference in price to be used up to one year from the date of the original purchase. Southwest is the only airline that truly gives a full refund credit any time a fare drops in price up to 10 minutes prior to departure.
Southwest Change/Cancellation Fees
- No fees
Will Sun Country Refund If Price Drops?
Yes, if the price of the new airfare is lower, the difference is given in the form of a travel credit good for one year from the original date of purchase. The fare drop must occur at least 60 days prior to departure to get a full refund credit for any price difference. If it is within 60 days of travel, a change fee will apply.
Sun Country Change/Cancellation Fees
- No fee if the change is made 60+ days prior to departure.
- $39 per direction, per traveler for changes made 59-14 days prior to departure.
- $79 per direction, per traveler for changes made 13-0 days prior to departure.
Will United Refund If Price Drops?
Yes, there have been multiple reports of an unofficial price drop refund policy on United. If the price drops within 30 days of booking the ticket, call a United Reservations agent to ask for a refund credit. Some agents may not know about this policy so ask for a supervisor or try calling again if your first attempt does not succeed. Basic Economy fares cannot be changed more than 24 hours after booking.
While United doesn’t officially state its price drop refund policy anywhere online, it has worked for many travelers who have called United after a fare has dropped. Some have even mentioned having the $50 processing fee waived, though it seems lately that is not happening anymore so the price drop will likely need to be more than $50 for any refund credit to be issued.
United Change/Cancellation Fees
- $50 processing fee for price drops within 30 days of booking (unofficial policy).
- United Airlines has eliminated change/cancellation fees for certain itineraries and cabin fares. Check their website to see if your flight qualifies.
It never hurts to try calling an agent and asking for a refund if you notice a significant drop in price for your flight. If you are courteous and you get an agent in a good mood, you may even be able to get a refund outside of the airline’s official policy. Just don’t have high expectations or demand any sort of refund that you are not entitled to, because an agent is less likely to do any favors for an angry customer.