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How to Avoid Hotel and Flight Cancellation Fees

How to Avoid Cancellation Fees When Backing Out of a Trip

I'm sure many of you have had to deal with canceling trips in the past. Perhaps you were a little too eager when planning a trip and rushed ahead to purchase tickets and nights at a hotel without giving it careful thought. Or maybe something came up, and you were no longer able to travel. It's definitely a bummer canceling your travel plans, not to mention a hassle and a waste of time and money. Canceling your trip doesn't always mean heavy cancellation fees. Here are a few ways to avoid paying those annoying penalties:

For plane tickets

  • Pick the right airline. Opt to pick airlines that have a more lenient change or cancellation policy. Southwest is your best bet, as the airline will let you change your flights without incurring fees.
  • Cancel within 24 hours. There's a new rule (that all airlines have to adhere to) that lets you get all of your money back if you cancel within 24 hours of your booking. The flight also needs to be at least seven days from the time of booking to qualify.
  • Get refundable fares. If there is a very high chance of your trip falling through, perhaps you should consider getting a refundable fare. Those will obviously be higher priced, but if the cancellation fee will cost more than the difference between a coach ticket and a refundable fare ticket, you might want to get the latter.

For hotel stays

  • Change the date of your hotel stay. I found this neat little tip on Lifehacker: postpone your arrival date by a few days so you won't get hit with a cancellation fee if you're planning on canceling in less than 24 hours. It's advisable to wait at least a day before canceling, rather than canceling it right away, to make it less obvious.
  • Talk directly to the hotel. Most of the time, talking to the hotels directly works a lot better than the official hotline of a hotel chain. I've gotten away with penalty-free cancellations, so just talk to the manager of the hotel and let them know your situation. Read my tips on how to talk your way into getting anything you want.

Remember, if you're canceling your trip because of work-related reasons, you can always try asking your employer to expense the cancellation fees on your behalf.

Source: Flickr User Atli Harðarson

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