You Can Cancel Your Flight Within 24 Hours If You Find a Better Deal

Did you even know this was an option?

You are shopping for airfare, and you buy a ticket that looks pretty darn reasonable in price. The next morning, you find that the same ticket has dropped by $50 or $100. Are you totally without recourse?

No, you aren’t. Many people don’t know this, but the Department of Transportation typically allows you to cancel your flight ticket on a U.S. airline carrier FOR FREE within 24 hours of purchasing. But, of course, you have to know the terms.

How It Works

Airlines are required to allow you to cancel your flight within 24 of hours of purchasing OR allow you to put your ticket on a complimentary hold for 24 hours. This applies to nonrefundable tickets as well. If you cancel in the allotted timeframe, you are entitled to a full refund. And you have to buy the ticket for at least seven days in advance of the departure.

But some airlines, instead of allowing 24-hour cancellation, instead offer a complimentary 24-hour hold. One such example is American Airlines. In fact, they actually allow you to purchase the ticket, at the held price, up until 11:59 pm the next day. So even if you put the ticket on hold at 8 am on a Wednesday, you have until 11:59 pm on Thursday to book. But you have to be mindful of the time zone listed. (I have made that before and missed the time zone and the ticket was released.)

This rule also applies to some third-party sites, although they may have their own fees associated with canceling. Always be sure to check the fine print.

So remember, once you book a ticket (or in the case of American Airlines, put a ticket on hold), shop around and see what you can find. You never know, you may end up saving yourself some money if you find a deal and cancel your flight within 24 hours.

For more tips and tricks for travel and travel deals check out BarrisTourista every Thursday. We will be taking a hiatus for the holidays but will see you soon. And to make sure you never miss another tip, sign up for the BarrisTourista list and as a bonus you will get a 5-Page Travel Deals Mini Guide! 


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

25 comments on “You Can Cancel Your Flight Within 24 Hours If You Find a Better Deal”

  1. That is a great bit of information to have. There are so many deals, specials, and promotions that it’s so difficult to make sure you really have the best one. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I travel often and I’ve always taken this into account. There have been times where I’ve found flights up to $75 dollars cheaper within hours of buying a flight and I was able to cancel the first one and book the cheaper one <3

  3. This has been very helpful. I’ve had bad experiences with some airlines when it comes to cancellations so this is something that I will keep in mind for future use.

  4. I bought a ticket to Brazil, it had a FREE Cancelation on top of the offer, when I had to reschedule it, 40 days prior to the trip, they charged me $ 200.00! I think the cancellation policy should be more clear and upfront on sites! Love your post!

  5. This is a great post with amazing information I didn’t know. I am glad you are getting the word out there about cancelling within a 24 hr period. I don’t think most people knew you had 24 hours after booking to cancel the flight.

  6. Well that’s good to know! I’ve only had to buy plane tickets a handful of times so I rarely have to worry about canceling. I remember one year I bought a ticket to St-Louis and it came to 400 (and change) only to find a cheaper flight the next day (about 100$ cheaper). lol I was PISSED but didn’t even think canceling was an option!

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