Last Updated May 18, 2021

How to use the 24-hour rule to get cheap flights from Philly

Whenever I search for cheap flights from Philly and spot an insane deal, my first thought is usually: "Book this flight NOW before someone else does, fool!"

But then I snap back to reality and remember I need to check with my boss and significant other (the real boss).

The problem is, by the time I do all that, the flight deal is often gone -- scooped up by other travelers who pulled the trigger first.

I had experienced this disappointment a few times before I finally learned about a better way to book airfare that lets you impulsively jump on cheap fares first, and ask questions later:

The US Department of Transportation 24-Hour Rule (link to rule)

This is a powerful rule that everyone can take advantage of, but hardly anyone talks about.

Basically, if your flight meets the following criteria:

  • Booked directly with the airline
  • Flight is going to or from the USA
  • The reservation was made at least 7 days before departure
You can cancel your ticket within 24-hours of booking without charge or penalty.

Two big ways this benefits you

1. When you see an incredible fare, you can book immediately to lock in a price, and then have 24 hours to decide if the trip will actually work for you.
2. If the price drops further within 24 hours of booking, you can cancel the original reservation and book the same route at the new lower price.

Example: Say you book a flight to Paris for $500. But the next day, the same flight drops to $400. Here's what you do:

  1. Ensure you're still within the 24-hr window from purchase (with some time to spare)
  2. Book the new cheaper ticket on the same flight
  3. Cancel old reservation
  4. Pocket the $100 difference and spend it on your trip 🙂
It's really that easy.

Just two points to keep in mind:

  1. This rule doesn't cover flights booked with travel agencies like Expedia or Priceline. Those sites all have their own policies but are not required to honor this rule. It only applies if you book directly with the airline.
  2. In lieu of this 24-hour cancelation policy, airlines can offer a free 24-hr price hold on a ticket without payment. But this isn't super common now-a-days.
So going forward, take advantage of this flexibility to jump on cheap fares as they appear and get "cash back" if the price drops within a day of booking.

After all, more money saved means more flights... and we know that's what you're all about!