Get an Online Personal Travel Assistant

Nothing annoys a budget-minded traveler more than finding out that the price of the trip fell after they bought their own ticket. To add insult to injury, many travelers don’t realize that most U.S. airlines actually have a “guaranteed airfare policy” that would let them claim a refund for the price difference.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an assistant who could track those things for you, and alert you when you may be eligible for a refund? (Don’t expect even a good travel agent to do this for you.  Sure, they’ll work hard to get you the best fare available on the day you book your flight – but can you really expect travel agencies to encourage their employees to cut commissions by going back and notifying customers if airfares go down later? Probably not — the time required to track it manually would be prohibitive even without the lower earnings.)

Enter a new website called YAPTA  (short for “Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant”). It has many of the features on other travel sites, but its claim to fame is tracking airline prices, and notifying fliers via email when the fare on a particular flight goes down – even after the trip is booked.

Jeff Pecor, Sr. Communications Director at Yapta.com, says that since the site was launched in May 2007, more than 750,000 travelers have been alerted to more than $300 million in savings.

Yapta.com has a helpful section on how to claim airline refunds, and details on each major airline’s refund policy. Some airlines will offer refunds in the form of travel vouchers, while a few offer cash refunds. Rules vary by airline – here’s what the website has to say about major U.S. airlines:

  • Refunds for any price drop: Alaska Airlines, JetBlue
  • Refunds for a price drop of $75 or more: Virgin America, AirTran
  • Refunds for a price drop of $100 or more: Hawaiian, Midwest
  • Refunds for a price drop of $150 or more: American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, US Airways
  • Note that some airlines offer a refund – but also charge a “rebooking fee” to give you the lower airfare.

A log-in is required to join Yapta, but it is free. You can register flights purchased elsewhere with the site for notification of a price change, or book airfare and hotel deals through the site.

Have you succeeded in getting a refund from an airline? Did you use Yapta – or is there another great way to handle this? Let us know!

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alex-s/ / CC BY 2.0

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One Response to Get an Online Personal Travel Assistant

  1. John March 30, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    Thanks so much for the Yapta coverage. It’s always good to see others in the travel space recognizing the services that you provide. If you fly Alaska or JetBlue, using Yapta should really be a no-brainer. Neither airline charges a ‘change fee’, so once you’ve received a Yapta alert that the price is dropped, it’s as easy as calling the airline and having them send you a voucher via email. Takes about 3 minutes depending on phone-wait times.

    Thanks again!

    John

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