Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Find Cheap Flights? Book First, Cancel Later

I should know better, I really should! When you find a cheap flight, you should book it right away and then think about it. You can always cancel within 24 hours of booking for no penalty, at least on Air Canada and Westjet.

I knew this. I really did. But for some reason I thought that the flight would 'keep' overnight, so I could sleep on it. And this lapse in judgment cost me $100 CAD more, before taxes. Well, only $60 more when I left day later and came home a day earlier than I had planned.

So I paid fairly steeply by not following my own advice.

Only a few weeks earlier, friend Rick was checking for cheap flights from SYD Sydney Australia to YYZ Toronto. He had found one, and then kept on researching. The next day, when he checked that site again with plans to book that flight, the cheap fare was long gone, and he had to start looking all over again.

In his case, he actually did better the next time: His ultimate flight took him from Sydney to San Fransisco to Washington to Buffalo NY, where he could be picked up for the hour or so drive into Toronto.

Of course, this routing made for a much longer transit time, but his final cost, all in, was about $900 CAD, an unbelievably good price for Australia-Canada flights. He returned via the same routing.

And a few months ago, former travel agent daughter was booking flights from Toronto to Europe. She kept watch over her airlines' flight schedules for about 30 hours, and saw the exact same flights vary wildly in total costs. She booked one flight, then checked again in 15 hours (the next morning), and saw a much cheaper fare. She quickly canceled her original booking and booked the lower fare flights.

So I knew all this, and yet I didn't do it. From now on, I shall follow my own advice and book when I find a fare I am happy with. Just be sure to read the fine print on the airlines' websites. There should be something in that tiny print that says cancel within 24 hours -- credit full amount back to your credit card, i.e. no penalty charges incurred.

You snooze, you lose!

Where am I going? Ah that's the next post! Think Road Trip!!! Rockies!!
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