This is usually a topic that I discuss at DansDeals Seminars, but I haven’t done one of those in a while, so here goes.
Most weather models are forecasting heavy snow this weekend on the east coast. I think that’s it’s very likely that by tonight (or tomorrow at the latest) the airlines will allow free changes and cancellations for tickets booked for travel for Friday-Sunday, with the exact dates varying based on the city.
The airline industry is notorious for sticking it to consumers when they have a change of plans, but weather waivers are one way that consumers can have a leg up on the airlines.
But are you a gambler?
Say you have an award ticket on American from JFK-LAX in June that you know you want to cancel. Most airlines charge about $150 to redeposit those miles. However making a simple date change is free on American, although on other airlines it might set you back $75. You could change the ticket to fly this Saturday and hope the weather waiver falls into place and then you would be able to cancel and get back the miles for free.
Only tickets booked for travel on weather waiver dates before the waiver is issued are eligible for free refunds or cancellations. Once the weather waiver is issued it’s too late.
Same story goes if you want to travel next week on a flight where flights are expensive. For example a flight on American from NYC to Miami on Saturday is $82 while Sunday is $201, but that Saturday flight will be changeable for free, assuming the weather forecast remains on track.
And the same thing applies if you want to travel next week on a flight without award space. United has saver award space from Newark to Tel Aviv this Saturday, but nothing for travel on Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday. Assuming a weather waiver is issued for Saturday travel that would be changeable and most agents can force open award space.
You can hedge your bets as tickets booked on Priceline are cancellable for free until 11:29pm tomorrow. And awards on most airlines besides American can be cancelled within 24 hours of booking for free.
Have you ever used weather waiver policies for your advantage? Hit the comments!