Evaluating Orbitz's policy to refund travelers when fares drop

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A healthy dose of skepticism met Orbitz's launch of the Price Assurance guarantee back in June. At the time, Tom Russell, VP of brand marketing, told me the online booking agency anticipated mailing "thousands of checks monthly." But to get one of these automatic refund checks, things have to align just right: you buy an airline ticket for a specific seat class and route that another customer subsequently books on Orbitz at a lower price. (The check refunds you the difference.)

It turns out Russell's prediction was essentially correct. Orbitz recently disclosed that it mailed refund checks to travelers for more than 2,400 routes over a three-month period, June through September. When I asked PR rep Kevin Gray to put that statistic in context—by sharing the total number of routes sold or the actual number of refunds—he replied that Orbitz is a public company and can't reveal such data because of the possible financial implications.

So where do you have to fly to have the highest chance of getting cash back? Orbitz shared with us its list of the top 20 refund-generating routes. Many involve major hubs like New York City and Los Angeles that handle a high volume of flights and may see more price fluctuation. Milwaukee to Las Vegas and Guadalajara to Los Angeles are among the less obvious routes that made the list. Read on for the complete top 20…

Are you more inclined to test out the Price Assurance now? And do you know anyone who's gotten a refund check?

Origin and Destination

1. JFK to London Heathrow

2. L.A. to JFK

3. Seattle-Tacoma to L.A.

4. JFK to San Francisco

5. JFK to L.A.

6. San Francisco to JFK

7. L.A. to San Jose Del Cabo

8. LaGuardia to Detroit Metro

9. Milwaukee to Las Vegas

10. Washington Dulles to L.A.

11. Chicago O'Hare to Las Vegas

12. Minneapolis-St. Paul to JFK

13. Seattle-Tacoma to San Francisco

14. Boston Logan to Chicago O'Hare

15. Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo to L.A.

16. L.A. to San Francisco

17. JFK to Minneapolis-St. Paul

18. L.A. to Newark

19. Salt Lake City to Orlando

20. L.A. to Cancun

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