That’s usually my normal MO. I’m flying from one thing to another so I cut a relatively tight schedule (but still giving myself 14-16 hours to get somewhere usually).
DCA now has a storm predicted for the day I’m supposed to leave for this event.
I called US Airways to reschedule the flight and was told that the storm wasn’t recognized by US Airways yet, so I was SOL. But I really needed to ensure I got to that event.
Since Thursday is two days ago, I figured if US Airways was going to add DCA to the list of affected airports, they were going to do it in the next 24 hours.
So I took advantage of the 24 hours rule.
That is, most airlines will let you cancel a flight within 24 hours. (I say most because there’s a loop hole where you can *hold* a flight for 24 hours on some airlines instead of buying and canceling).
Delta lets you cancel tickets the next day by midnight. So when I saw a last-minute fare on Delta for ~$300, I booked it quickly. ($300 for a last-minute ticket is incredible!)
I felt really secure in having a backup. But a little while after I booked my Delta flight, I find out my new flight has been cancelled. Luckily, I was rebooked on a more desirable (but originally more expensive) route.
I was basking in this when I got another call. My second flight was cancelled.
And I was protected on a third flight.
I tried calling to discuss that third flight but there was a six hour (I wish I were joking) wait time on Delta.
Soon, US Airways issued a weather advisory, and I was able to move my flight up sooner. So I cancelled my flight with Delta–after waiting six hours for them to call me back.
So even though there was a lot of back and forth over the flights, I never was really worried about missing my flight event. Just worried about earning Sky Pesos. (I AM KIDDING, RENE).
So if you are worried about making a flight for an important work trip, try booking a back-up one with a 24-hour cancellation policy to make sure you can get where you need to be.
But make sure you understand the rules around the 24-hour cancellation policy.
American is much less flexible than Delta. And also pay attention to whether you need to call or not. The only reason I couldn’t cancel my Delta flight online is because the changes to my flight made things a bit more complicated.
Edit: Make sure you read the rules first for each airline! The law technically says that they do not have to do this when a ticket is bought less than a week out, but many airlines have looser rules. But again, make sure you know the rules of that airline before booking!
How have you utilized the 24-hour rule?