We’ve all been there. We receive a notification that our flight was cancelled. Everyone runs to the gate agents or lounge agents. Everyone pulls out their phone.
When there’s been major cancellations, I had trouble getting rebooked as a top-tier elite on my airline. You can’t get prioritized to the front of the line if all the circuits are busy.
Luckily, there’s an app that can help you with this now.
Freebird is a first-of-its-kind mobile rebooking tool that empowers travelers to skip the line and instantly book a new ticket – on any airline at no additional cost – in the event of a flight cancellation, four-hour delay, or missed connection. Freebird provides travelers with instant notifications in the event of a flight disruption, and offers the ability to rebook in less than 30 seconds with only three taps on their mobile device.
The Freebird airlines aren’t limited. They will literally book from whatever flights are available.
This sounds great, so there must be a catch, right?
Well, there is.
In order to use this service, you must pay a fee at least two days prior to your flight. This fee is generally $19 for a one-way flight or $34 for a round-trip. However, that price may rise as the date of travel gets closer if a snowstorm or hurricane is being predicted for the area.
Think of it as a very specific type of flight insurance. They insist that they aren’t an insurance company. They are a rebooking service. But since this service will cover you if you need to purchase a really expensive ticket to get to your destination, my mental model calls that insurance.
How does it work?
From the website:
Freebird will alert you instantly via text message if your flight is cancelled, delayed by more than four hours, or if you miss your connection due to a delay. From there, it’s just three taps to book a new ticket: (1) tap to open your alert, (2) tap to select a new flight, and (3) tap to confirm your selection. It’s that fast and easy – no need to input any additional search, personal, or payment info.
Freebird will rebook your flight as long as it meets the criteria above. It doesn’t matter if the flight delay/cancellation is due to weather, mechanical, or anything else. And it will book the flight on any airline.
You can choose any flight that comes up in their search.
Freebird claims that the Freebird airlines are similar to what would come up in a Kayak or Expedia search. They don’t limit the search results.
Here are a few perks:
The ticket is a new ticket, so you can potentially get your original ticket refunded for the cancellation.
The ticket is also a legitimate ticket. This means you can get miles on this ticket as well. With so many airlines moving to revenue basis, this is a benefit for you. You’ll receive miles based on the cost of a last-second ticket.
But be warned:
If your cancelled flight is an outbound flight, using Freebird can cause issues. Freebird books you a new ticket, so if your airline automatically rebooks your ticket, you’ll get marked as a no-show if you don’t check in with the airlines.
Luckily, Freebird advises people to do this. I was really glad to see this note on their website, since Freebird airlines may vary:
Airlines may cancel the return leg of a round-trip flight if the traveler does not use the outbound leg. If you have a round-trip flight and your outbound leg is disrupted, we recommend you speak to a representative of your original airline after rebooking via Freebird. In the event of a disruption, airlines can preserve your return leg if you explain the circumstances.
Also, if your flight is eligible to be rebooked by Freebird and you choose not to use the service, they will send you a $100 gift card of your choice. This is great in situations where your airline automatically rebooks you into the best flight option.
Freebird doesn’t support international flights yet.
Would I use it?
I wouldn’t use Freebird for every flight, but I would use it for my high-stakes flights. Since the Freebird airlines aren’t limited, this really opens up the options in high-pressure situations.
I would use Freebird for something like a honeymoon, or if I had an expensive trip that was on a time-crunch. For example, if I had no status and was trying to get to Vegas in time to do something expensive, I might insure with this type of service. This is great for things like a helicopter excursion or exclusive reservations at a restaurant.
Status or not, I would use Freebird for a honeymoon, or any other high stakes vacation where the stress of trying to rebook would not be worth it. Most trips, I’d be fine getting on the phone (or running to an agent). Some situations demand relaxing with a fruity cocktail while someone else does the work. Since travel is turning into a “job” of sorts for me, I’d use this as an opportunity to take a trip off from being the fixer on the trip.
If international flights were supported, I would definitely use it for my upcoming flight to New Zealand.
Would you use this service?