To Book or Not to Book… or United FareLock It

by Brian on May 14, 2012

in Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, MileagePlus, Southwest, United Airlines, US Airways

If you are like TripBadger, you probably check airfares to your favorite destinations on a regular basis and dream of travel to faraway places.  When the stars align and you find the perfect fare, how do you know you have found the cheapest option?  Do you worry that if you do not buy it immediately, it will be gone?

24 Hour Reservation Hold

The good news is that if you find that amazing deal, you can feel free to snap it up to confirm a seat.  Because many airlines permit consumers to either hold a reservation at a guaranteed fare for 24 hours or to cancel a ticketed reservation for a full refund within 24 hours, you have time to lock in the fare and keep searching for a potentially cheaper price.  American Airlines, for instance, allows travelers to put a reservation on a courtesy hold for 24 hours and guarantees the fare.  United, US Airways, Delta, Southwest, Alaska, and Frontier let travelers cancel a reservation within 24 hours of booking.  TripBadger recommends reading the fine print on each airline’s website for detailed explanations of their policies.  Also, you might want to review the U.S. Department of Transportation’s consumer guide to air travel, Fly-Rights.  This document attempts to  summarize the ever changing policies of the U.S. airline industry.

United FareLock

If the 24 hour hold or cancellation window does not give you enough time to make a definitive decision, United also offers its FareLock product.  This service enables travelers to lock in a fare for a nominal fee for either 72 hours or 7 days.  While not ticketed, the reservation is placed on hold and the price guaranteed for the duration of the selected hold period.  The question is whether it’s worth the FareLock fee or better to risk a fluctuation in the fare.  TripBadger tested FareLock for a ticket from Washington Reagan Airport (DCA) to Portland, Oregon (PDX) in July.  The fare between DCA and PDX did not change within the seven day FareLock window and the fee added to the overall cost of the ticket once it was booked.  In this case, it would have been better to take a chance and gamble on the price not changing.

Have you tried United’s FareLock?  TripBadger would like to hear about your experience!

  • pumpernickel000

    United Airline’s FareLock is a rip-off. The cost of Fare Lock is NOT deducted from the final ticket price and is way too much.

    • Brian

      Thanks for your comment. TripBadger tried it a few more times and the price did not fluctuate much during the hold period. It would definitely be a more attractive option if some fraction of the FareLock fee were deducted from the ticket price once booked and ticketed.

    • tripbadger

      Thanks for your comment. TripBadger tried it a few more times and the price did not fluctuate much during the hold period. It would definitely be a more attractive option if some fraction of the FareLock fee were deducted from the ticket price once booked and ticketed.

  • Bri

    I used the fare lock to book tickets for a church group going to El Salvador, the price varied (depending on how many tickets at a time I was putting on lock) and ranged form $6-$11 per ticket. There was a cheaper resource but we held it for a week. It gave everyone on the team time to make sure they could go. It was a very valuable resource for us as we had several people who had to back out. Losing out on $11 is a lot better than losing out on $600 and to lock in the seat and fare so that we all were going together was a huge plus for us. I wish more airlines would do this. So no, the price is not deducted for the ticket and if I were only purchasing for a couple of people in the same family it probably wouldn’t be worth it. But dealing with multiple households and schedules, it is awesome!

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