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Some people think that once they’ve booked their flights and made their hotel reservations, the planning of these aspects of an upcoming trip is complete. If you subscribe to that belief, you might be making a big mistake.
While most airline tickets are non-refundable, and not changeable, it is still a good idea to stay on top of any changes in the flight. First, it may impact other decisions. Second, if the change is significant, the airline will waive change fees – and therefore you’ll be able to change to a more opportune flight, without fee. Even if the change is not enough to allow cancellation, the seating may have changed. Getting caught without a seat assignment, is like getting caught with your pants down.
If the ticket is an award ticket, there are similar reasons to watch for flight changes. I also check the flight to see how full it is – and silently think out what I might do if an opportunity to be voluntarily bumped arose.
If I have a connecting flight, and I am using in-flight wi-fi, I check on the status of the next flight while mid-air. If a problem arises, I immediately try to contact the Twitter team.
The Twitter suggestion works for both airlines and hotels. I traditionally find the Twitter customer service reps to be helpful, prompt and a pleasure to deal with.
If you booked a non-refundable rate, there is less to do. However, even if the price is a final price, and I thereafter see the price dip further, I would call the hotel and see if they’d refund the different. Plenty of times, I have been able to cancel hotel reservations based on valid considerations such as weather or illness.
If a reservation technically is beyond the last day to cancel, it is still possible that hotels will allow a cancellation, especially if you are a member of the hotel chain’s loyalty club (and you are very nice). One time, I needed to cancel a reservation, but it was within the 7 day period when you were no longer allowed to cancel. The customer service rep on the phone called the hotel property, but they refused to allow the cancellation. The phone rep was not pleased with this, so he went ahead and changed my reservation to a week or two in the future, so I could then cancel it without penalty! (there’s a trick to remember in the future!)
I am planning a trip to Austin soon. Two of the nights, I had booked at an upscale Hyatt property, at the points and cash rate of $125 plus 10,000 gold passport points. Then, the other day, I noticed that the government rate (a rate I am eligible to use) of $120 opened up for one of the two nights. I phoned Hyatt, and they changed one of the nights to the government rate, and returned the 10,000 points to my account. Today, I checked again. Now government rate is available for the second night as well, so I once again phoned Hyatt and they made the adjustment. So, I just saved 20,000 points – just by remembering to check reservations!
If your travel to a location is for an event (such as a conference or a marathon), often blocks of non-rented rooms will be released in the few weeks before the event. Additionally, in the week or two before the event, many people will cancel the reservations they’ve been holding. At this point, not only will rooms open, but often special rates, such as government, AAA or corporate rates will become newly available.
Yes, there are a lot of tricks and hacks out there, but the suggestions above are neither. There is nothing questionable about following up on the status and price of reservations. It is just smart and good sense to do so!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.