|by Rachel Mosely||Airfares & Flying||275|
We've all been there: you book a pricey flight, thinking "well, the airfare's only going to go up from here, right?" Later, you check the rates again, only to find out you could've saved yourself a decent chunk of change if you'd bucked conventional wisdom and waited until the last minute to book. Remember how your level of travel-planning anxiety was never quite the same afterwards? Canada-based online travel agency Flight Network feels your pain, and they're here to help with their new Price Drop Protection program, which aims to simplify and de-stress the booking process, despite those mercurial prices. "Our customers clearly told us that their number one airfare booking worry is price fluctuations after they make a purchase," explains CEO Naman Budhdeo, "and the Price Drop Protection plan is our response."
Here's how it works: you book your trip with Flight Network; if the airfare drops, you're credited the difference in Price Drop Protection Dollars, which can be used for future airfare or travel insurance. There's a bit of a gamble involved—although you can check prices at any time after your initial booking, you only have one chance to commit to a lower fare (if the price drops again after that, you're out of luck.). The amount you can earn back from a price drop on an international flight is capped at $100, but there's no limit on domestic flights (whether your airfare drops $100 or $1000, you can get that money back in credits).
There are some similar programs out there—the most prominent, Yapta (also free), alerts you to price changes and refund opportunities via email. MasterCard recently partnered with Yapta on an initiative called PriceAssure, which grants cardholders credits when airfare drops. FlightNetwork is carving out its own niche, however, by covering all the bases—booking your flight, tracking price changes, accessing and using your credits if the fare drops—in one place. Says chief marketing officer Gail Rivett, " The difference between this program and others is that you can get the credit if the lower fare is available on our site—no other customer has to purchase the flight at the lower fare. Other programs that we are aware of only offer the lower fare discount if another customer purchases. A service like Yapta, alerts customers when a fare drop exists on their flight that would exceed the cancellation or change fee. Only then does it make economic sense for the customer to change their fare. For Flightnetwork.com's PDP, there is no fee. So at any point that the fare drops on our site, it makes sense for the customer to grab that new deal then."
Another plus—although Flight Network is based in Canada, US customers can still get in on Price Drop Protection by booking from FlightNetwork.com/us.
What methods have you used to get the lowest airfare, or recoup your cash when the price of your flight drops?
MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: