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FYI 24 hour flight cancellation NOT for companion fare. UPDATE it is!

I just found out the hard way the 24 hours to cancel a flight does not include the companion fare for Alaska Air. I had booked a ticket for my daughter and her boyfriend believing I could cancel if they were unable to get off work as long as I cancelled within 24 hours. I had used my companion fare with a paid fare. The paid fare was credited back to my credit card but the companion fare was forfeited. I called and talked with a representative who confirmed this to be true. I would not have booked had I know in advance I would lose the companion fare.

This forum has helped me immensely in my travels so thought I would pass this on too.

Kathleen

Posted by
2041 posts

Thanks for sharing something many people don't know. I'm sorry you had to learn the hard way. I think most airlines have this buried in the fine print of their companion fare certificates. Once the certificate is used, it's gone. It was in the fine print of a Delta certificate I redeemed earlier this year.

Posted by
4695 posts

That's awful! I would call Alaska again and try to get them to issue a new companion certificate. If told know, ask for a supervisor. Perhaps a weekend isn't the best day to call...

Good luck!

Posted by
6443 posts

Changes and Refunds: Changes and refunds are allowed per the applicable fare rule and may result in the forfeiture of the Discount Code.

This from Alaska site. There does seem to be some wiggle room and other factors may apply. Another call would not hurt.

Posted by
88 posts

Thank you all for the responses. I agree it is buried in the fine print and it is worth a call to Supervisor on Monday. As I just re booked my daughter (sans boyfriend) and during check out it clearly states "Free Cancellation within 24 hours". I can't be 100% sure but I do not recall seeing any notice at time of purchase regarding forfeit of companion fare at checkout including the companion fare.
I will report back.
Kathleen

Posted by
2041 posts

Probably more info than you want to know, but sometimes facts (rather than conjecture/assumptions) are a good thing to have when dealing with airlines...

I had to go read up on what the companion fare is on Alaskan; it looks like it is a discounted fare for a companion (my Delta certificate is for a free companion, so a little different). Answers to airline questions aren't always as simple as they might seem to be, so it's always nice to have access to the terms and conditions ("small print") of any given offer. Sadly, the FAQ for the companion fare on the Alaskan Airlines website indicates that the terms/conditions of the offer are reachable only through a link to the companion fare code in your online wallet. So, I don't have access to that.

If I click on the link Tom provided above, it states (emphasis mine)...

When your plans change within the first 24 hours following your ticket
purchase, here’s what you need to know:

If you need to cancel your flights, we will refund you the cost of
your unused tickets
.
If you need to change* your flights, you can do
so one time without paying any change fees.

So... if they've refunded you the money you paid ("the cost"), they have met the letter-of-the-law obligation of their refund policy. There is no reference to making you whole or refunding discount codes, companion airfare codes/certificates, etc. (see below for more on this).

A good place to look outside of airline websites when there are issues related to airlines is the FlyerTalk forum, which is populated by frequent flyers who tend to have far more experience with these things than the average RS forum member.

There is a "Bank of America Mileage Plan Visa Companion Fare FAQ" thread with a sticky that includes the forum's collective knowledge of the general rules. It indicates that refunds forfeit the companion fare but rebooking/changes do not. Apparently, the strategy that preserves the companion fare is to change/rebook the itinerary instead of canceling it (see above... Alaska does not charge a change fee until after 24 hours, so this could be done only for any cost difference in fares).

Flyertalk also has a thread about what happens to discount codes when an itinerary is canceled within 24 hours. There is debate (and no definitive answer) about what happens. There is reference to the Dept of Transportation's Guidance on the 24-Hour Reservation Requirement, which states the following:

For any online cancellation that is covered by the 24-hour reservation
requirement, in deciding whether to pursue enforcement action, the
Enforcement Office considers it to be a violation of 14 CFR
259.5(b)(4) and an unfair and deceptive practice for a carrier not to offer consumers the option of receiving a full refund in the original
form of payment before the cancellation request is submitted.

The question on the forum is whether the companion fare code is a "form of payment" (refundable according to the guidance document) or a discount from the airline (not addressed by the guidance document).

(Continued below)

Posted by
2041 posts

I'll go one step further than the FlyerTalk thread... How about the law (14 CFR 259.5(b)(4)) that the Guidance references, along with the subsequent subsection (14 CFR 259.5(b)(5)) (see page 215 of the PDF, PDF link found at the US Government Publishing Office website)?

§ 259.5 Customer Service Plan. (a) Adoption of Plan. Each covered
carrier shall adopt a Customer Service Plan applicable to its
scheduled flights and shall adhere to the plan’s terms. (b) Contents
of Plan. Each Customer Service Plan shall address the following
subjects and comply with the minimum standards set forth:

[...]

(4) Allowing reservations to be held without payment or cancelled
without penalty for a defined amount of time;

(5) Where ticket refunds
are due, providing prompt refunds, as required by 14 CFR 374.3 and 12
CFR part 226 for credit card purchases, and within 20 days after
receiving a complete refund request for cash and check purchases,
including refunding fees charged to a passenger for optional services
that the passenger was unable to use due to an oversale situation or
flight cancellation;

Hmmmmmm... does "without penalty" mean you should get the Companion Fare code back? The intuitive answer is "yes," but it's not entirely clear since the subsequent refund section only makes reference to the following forms of payment: credit cards, cash, and checks.

So... now you are equipped with all the facts (and vagueness) that applies to your situation.

I think it's definitely worth a phone call. Tell them how much you love Alaskan and enjoy flying with them but that you are a little disappointed that it wasn't more clear that (1) canceling the itinerary would make the companion fare code go away and (2) changing the itinerary instead of canceling it would have preserved it. How about they give you back your companion fare? If not possible (perhaps their system cannot do it?), how about some other compensation? If that doesn't work, you can try HUCA (hang up, call again) or ask for a supervisor.

Good luck. Let us know how it works out...

Posted by
2041 posts

Also... I agree with calling during the week... you tend to get the "A" team.

Posted by
88 posts

Dave, I appreciated the time and effort you took to supply this information. I feel duly equipped to make my case. I will report back with hopefully good news.

Kathleen

Posted by
88 posts

Well good news. I called Alaska Airlines and they did say the companion fare is refundable within the 24 hour cancellation period. I was told incorrectly by the person I spoke with the day of cancellation. They apologized profusely and I will see my companion fare back in my account within 72 hours.

Thank you all for the encouragement to give them a call!

Kathleen

Posted by
3436 posts

Good to hear it worked out.

I knew that what you were told just didn't sound right for Alaska. They have always been one of the most flexible airlines I have ever dealt with, second only to Southwest in many areas. I just wish I needed to go more places they fly so I could use them more often.

Posted by
88 posts

I know I love Alaska but mostly fly to Europe. I wish their partner miles tickets with BA weren't so expensive. I just booked a Delta flight to Paris with miles and it was only $82.00.
Kathleen

Posted by
5605 posts

So glad that your persistence paid off!! That is good news.

Posted by
2041 posts

Congrats! Thanks for letting us know how it turned out.

Just updating everyone - Air Alaska now has a button you are required to click before cancelling your flight that says "I agree to waive my companion code" - You must click this in order to cancel online, or else you need to contact customer support. I talked to customer support with Live Chat and they cancelled the flight and refunded the voucher no problem, since it was within 24hrs of booking. Very happy with their quick and efficient service!
Cheers