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How To Cancel A Flight Without Paying A Cancellation Fee

It’s December, which means that travel season is well on its way. Things get truly crazy during the last weeks of the year, where airports make the news when situations turn for the worst. While traveling should invoke feelings of excitement, airport drama has escalated to a point where just the thought of a plane can make us feel seven different versions of dread.

Airlines have never been greedier, charging an arm and a leg per ticket and doubling down on cancellation fees. Vice interviewed Liana Corwin, a travel expert from Hopper, who gave out a few helpful tips that can guide you when it comes to knowing how to avoid a pricey cancellation fee. Check out some of her most helpful tips:

Know your airlines


Southwest Airlines is the only major carrier that doesn’t charge a cancellation fee, even if you cancel at the last minute. The fees for all the other airlines vary greatly, ranging from accessible ones of $75 to outrageous ones of over $200. Do your research and ask around before you purchase your ticket, planning in advance if you think you might need to change your flight. Check out the full list of airline cancellation fees here.

Understand the rules


The Department of Transportation enforces a 24-hour rule that demands that airlines hold flight reservation payments for 24 hours. In this time, you can cancel your flight without paying a penalty if you booked your flight at least a week in advance. Despite the fact that this window is pretty short, this is a good option if you really can’t afford to pay for a cancellation fee.

Call your credit card company


Some credit cards have trip cancellation insurance, offering you a full refund provided you have a real reason for cancellation such as an injury or an illness. These insurances vary greatly, with some credit cards covering weather related incidents and personal situations such as getting laid off from work.



If you don’t have a valid excuse for canceling your flight and it’s been 24 hours since you purchased your ticket, wait until the last minute to cancel and pray for a flight delay or a cancellation. Different airlines provide refunds depending on a long delay or on a cancellation. Be wary of getting your hopes up though; airlines consider these requests and charges on a case by case basis, so there’s no way to of knowing if you’ll get your refund.

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