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New Airfare Data Shows it Pays to Book Flights Early, Then Track the Purchase Price for Potential Refunds

Frugal Travelers that Book at Least 60 Days in Advance & Use Yapta to Monitor their Purchase Price Score an Airline Refund Nearly 11% of the Time

Seattle – May 5, 2010 – Yapta.com, the airfare tracking service, today revealed new data on airfare refund eligibility and issued best practices for frugal travelers looking to utilize the “guaranteed airfare” policies offered by U.S.-based airlines. According to Yapta’s airfare pricing data since April 2009, travelers that book at least 60 days in advance of their flight become eligible for an airline refund approximately 11 percent of the time. Also, travelers that book a flight on Alaska Airlines or JetBlue are six times more likely to get a refund on their airfare than compared to any other airline.

“Most domestic airlines have guaranteed airfare polices that enable travelers to claim a refund for the difference if the price of their flight becomes available for less after booking,” said Tom Romary, president and CEO of Yapta. “However, not many people know that the policy even exists – nor do they bother to check the price of their ticket after purchasing it. Travelers need to understand that the purchase process really doesn’t end until the cabin door closes and that they’re potentially leaving money on the table by not continuing to follow the price of their booked flight.”

Yapta’s data clearly reveals that refund eligibility decreases the longer a traveler waits to purchase a ticket. Travelers booking 30 days in advance are three times more likely to become eligible for a refund compared to those travelers that book one week in advance. Meanwhile, travelers booking at least 60 days in advance are four times more likely to become eligible for a refund compared to those travelers that book one week in advance.

Some major carriers like JetBlue and Alaska Airlines have very customer-friendly guaranteed airfare policies. Both airlines will always refund travelers the full difference in price in the event that a booked flight becomes available for less. Since January 2009, travelers using Yapta to track the price of their purchased JetBlue flights have become eligible for a refund approximately 33.9 percent of the time on domestic flights and 44.4 percent of the time on international flights. Meanwhile, travelers using Yapta to track the price of their purchased Alaska Airlines flights have become eligible for a refund 26.5 percent of the time on domestic flights and 39.7 percent of the time on international flights.

“I fly at least 100 times a year and I always book my flights with JetBlue because of their terrific guaranteed airfare policy,” said Lily Pineiro, a New York-based wedding planner. “With JetBlue, I don’t have to worry about whether I’m booking too early, or if my ticket will eventually drop in price. I always have the peace of mind that Yapta is watching my back, and that it will alert me when a JetBlue refund is only a phone call away. Last year alone, Yapta helped me save more than $4,000 on my JetBlue flights.”

Since April 2009, the average refund on domestic flights ranged from $45 on JetBlue to $233 on Continental Airlines. At the same time, the average refund on international flights ranged from $62 on Alaska Airlines to $722 on American Airlines. For a complete data on airfare refund eligibility and average refund amounts, visit: http://blog.yapta.com/yapta/2010/05/yaptas-best-practices-for-capturing-airline-refunds.html.

“There are a number of reasons why airlines provide this form of price assurance to travelers,” Romary said. “First, travelers need to book directly with the airline in order to qualify for a refund. Second, it’s a customer loyalty tactic. Since most refunds are issued in the form of a travel credit that’s good towards a future flight, the airlines are giving you an incentive to book with them again. There’s absolutely no reason why travelers shouldn’t take advantage of the price protection that’s available to them. If they don’t, they’re giving up on the easiest opportunity to save on their biggest travel expense.”

Since Yapta launched in May 2007, the company has tracked pricing on more than 3 million flights and conducted over 500 million airfare price inquiries. For more information on airline refunds, visit: http://www.yapta.com/airline-refunds/

About Yapta.com
Yapta.com, Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant, provides do-it-yourself travel planners with the tools and information needed to get the best value on their flight and hotel bookings. Yapta enables travelers to find their ideal flights and hotels, track prices, and save money when prices drop. By helping consumers tap into “guaranteed airfare” polices offered by many airlines, Yapta also helps travelers obtain an airline refund when the price of their purchased flight becomes available for less. For more information visit: www.yapta.com or blog.yapta.com

Media contact

Jeff Pecor
Tailwind Public Relations


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