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The 24-hour cancellation policy for airline tickets

To the point Here's everything you need to know about the 24-hour airline cancellation policy and how to get your money back.

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Flexibility in booking air tickets is crucial, and many airlines offer a cancellation policy within 24 hours of booking. Understanding the ins and outs of this policy can help you make informed decisions when booking your flights.

In this article, we’ll explore the details of the 24-hour policy for cancelling an airline ticket and getting a refund.

Is it possible to cancel airline tickets and obtain a refund?

Apart from the basic fare, most airlines allow you to cancel your ticket and obtain a refund. However, depending on the rate chosen, there may be fees.

On Air Canada, for example, a latitude fare ticket is fully refundable, whereas basic and standard fares are not refundable when paid in cash.

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All fares are refundable for point bookings, but only the latitude fare is free of charge.

So be sure to read the terms and conditions of the ticket you buy, as they vary enormously depending on how you pay(points or cash) and on the airline.

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The cancellation component of credit card travel insurance can be used to cancel a plane ticket only in cases of force majeure and not because you’ve changed your mind. The list of eligible situations includes examples such as a death in the immediate family, an accident, jury duty, and so on.

Among the various products, the National Bank World Elite Mastercard® and the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard are two examples of credit cards with very good cancellation insurance coverage.

However, there is a 24-hour window after purchase where airline tickets can be cancelled free of charge for many airlines for any reason.

What is the 24-hour cancellation policy for airline tickets?

Some airlines offer a 24-hour window during which passengers can cancel or modify their reservation without incurring cancellation fees, regardless of the reason.

In Canada

In Canada, the 24-hour cancellation policy for airline tickets may vary from one carrier to another. However, some airlines generally adopt similar policies in line with industry standards and regulations. Here is some general information on the 24-hour cancellation policy for flights within Canada:

  • Compliant airlines: Major Canadian airlines such as Air Canada and WestJet tend to follow industry-standard 24-hour cancellation policies, whereas Air Transat and Sunwing do not. Other carriers like Air France also apply this policy.
  • Direct bookings: The 24-hour policy generally applies to bookings made directly with the airline. If you have booked through a third party, such as an online travel agency like Expedia, the rules may be different, as you will have to go through their own rules and conditions. If you book with a travel agent, most of them allow you to freeze a price for 24 to 72 hours, which is an interesting alternative.
  • Cancellation procedure: Airlines generally allow you to cancel online via their website or by telephone, and to be reimbursed according to the original method of payment. Be sure to follow the indicated procedures and retain any cancellation confirmation.

Aeroplan point reservations are also subject to this 24-hour no-fee cancellation policy. In addition, airline tickets paid for with Aeroplan points can be cancelled up to two hours before departure for a fee based on fare class; these award tickets can be more flexible than tickets paid for with cash.

In the United States

In the U.S., the 24-hour cancellation policy for airline tickets is governed by the Airfare Transparency Act, also known as the DOT 24 – Hour rule. Here are the main points to remember about this law:

  • Right to cancel without penalty : The DOT 24 – Hour rule stipulates that airlines operating in the United States must allow consumers to cancel their reservations within 24 hours of booking without incurring cancellation fees, provided the reservation was made at least seven days prior to the departure date.
  • How it applies: The policy applies to flights to and from the U.S., whether domestic or international. However, the departure or arrival must be in the United States.
  • Possible exceptions: Although most major airlines adhere to this rule, it is advisable to check the specific policies of each carrier, as certain exceptions may exist. For example, flights operated by foreign carriers may not be subject to this rule, and some airlines offer a 24-hour price freeze instead.
  • Refund or credit: In the event of cancellation within 24 hours, most airlines will refund the full amount paid. However, some may also offer the possibility of receiving credit for a future trip.

Advantages of the 24-hour cancellation policy for airline tickets

The 24-hour rule is a significant protection tool for travellers, offering a number of advantages. In effect, this allows them to take advantage of any price cuts or better offers that may arise within 24 hours of booking, or to freeze a great price while waiting to finalize things like our boss’s approval of our vacation dates.

In the event of unforeseen circumstances or obstacles, travellers can cancel their reservation within 24 hours of purchase without incurring penalties, offering valuable peace of mind.

Bottom Line

The 24-hour cancellation policy is an invaluable opportunity to rectify a hastily made reservation or in the event of a sudden change of plans. By understanding the details of this policy, you can control the cancellation process efficiently and cost-effectively. Before booking your next flight, be sure to familiarize yourself with the airline’s specific policy to avoid any future confusion.

How do I cancel a plane ticket bought online?

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Following a booking, you can usually consult and modify your reservation online, through the portal of the operating airline. For example, with Air Canada, you can cancel your reservation online if :

  • you originally booked your flight at aircanada.com or through the Air Canada mobile application;
  • you cancel a reservation made with an Aeroplan Reward;
  • you cancel your reservation in full;
  • you cancel your flight at least two hours before departure.

Doing so online can sometimes save you extra costs. If you bought your ticket through a travel agent, you’ll have to go through them to cancel or modify it.

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How long does it take to cancel an airline ticket?

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To take advantage of the 24-hour cancellation policy with airlines that offer it, you obviously need to do so within this timeframe.

Then, once this window has passed, it may still be possible to do so, depending on the fare class of your ticket. With Air Canada, you can cancel your ticket up to two hours before departure, while with Air Transat you can do so at least 24 hours before departure. Since policies change from company to company, it’s best to check to see what applies to you.

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How can I get a refund for a cancelled flight?

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In the event of cancellation by the airline, you should receive a refund automatically within 30 days. On the other hand, if you cancel your ticket, you should receive a refund (minus any cancellation fees) within five to seven business days. Finally, if you are within 24 hours of the purchase, you should usually see the pending transaction disappear. Otherwise, the refund will be made within five to seven working days.

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How do I cancel a non-refundable ticket?

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The only way to obtain a refund on a non-refundable ticket is if the airline changes the flight schedule , if the situation is covered by your cancellation insurance or if the airline offers a 24-hour window.

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This post is also available in: FR

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I'm Aline, an experienced traveller, a foodie at heart, an Avgeek, a photography enthusiast and an expert on credit card programs. I use Reward Points to travel on a budget and to save money on everyday life; writing about these topics allows me to share my passion and help you. ~ 7 continents and 75 countries ~

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