If you’re like most people, when it comes to booking an airline ticket, you see the option of booking a refundable or non-refundable airline ticket and hesitate deciding which one to choose.
Refundable airline tickets tend to be much more expensive, so you no doubt go for the cheaper option.
But is purchasing a non-refundable ticket the right choice, or should you splurge and enjoy the security of a refundable ticket?
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Why You Should Buy Refundable Airline Tickets
1. You Have an Unpredictable Schedule
If you have an unpredictable schedule, such as needing to travel around a sick relative or a family member who is due to give birth but are unsure exactly when, it can be beneficial to be able to have that flexibility when you need to change your plans at the last minute.
2. You Have a Business
If you have a business, you know that meetings and priorities can change, sometimes at the drop of the hat.
So yourself or your employees may occasionally need to be able to make changes and cancellations at the last minute with as little hassle as possible.
3. You Want to Upgrade
Airlines prioritize certain consumers when it comes to upgrades, namely travelers who spend more with the airline.
If you purchased a refundable ticket, you are more likely to be able to obtain an upgrade.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy Refundable Airline Tickets
The main reason not to buy refundable airline tickets is due to their high price.
Refundable airline tickets can cost at least 4x the price of non-refundable tickets.
Considering that the vast majority of travelers fly as intended when they book a ticket, it simply isn’t worth it for most.
Non-Refundable Tickets Are Sometimes Refundable
In some instances, non-refundable airline tickets are refundable – in the sense that you will receive your money back and not just a travel voucher from the airline.
- If your flight is cancelled or “significantly” delayed, you are entitled to a cash refund.
- If you booked your ticket at least seven days before departure, you can cancel the ticket within 24 hours of booking and receive a full refund.
Buying a Refundable Ticket vs. Travel Insurance
In many instances, it is better to purchase travel insurance instead of refundable airline tickets, as these tickets can cost 4x as much as non-refundable tickets.
The caveat is that a standard travel insurance policy only covers some reasons for cancellations, and there are several insurance exclusions you should know about before buying a policy.
Instead, you can add a Cancel For Any Reason upgrade to your insurance, which is true to name, and allows you to cancel in the event you don’t want to or can’t fly for any reason.
Keep in mind that not every trip insurer offers Cancel For Any Reason insurance, though.
Additionally, CFAR insurance:
- Won’t reimburse you with 100% of the price of the ticket (50-75%)
- A flight needs to be canceled no later than two days before scheduled departure
- You have a limited number of days after purchasing a non-refundable ticket to add the CFAR option.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).