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Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

November 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM

An airline can make you happy (with low-fare guarantee)

Alaska Airlines planes are clustered at Sea-Tac Airport. (AP photo by Ted S. Warren.)

Alaska Airlines planes are clustered at Sea-Tac Airport. (AP photo by Ted S. Warren.)

Like many travelers, I get cranky about airlines. I’m annoyed by the ever-increasing extra fees, the ever-shrinking economy-class seats, the onboard battle for carry-on space.

But now for something completely different.  Alaska Airlines actually makes it pretty easy to get a refund if the price of your airline ticket goes down after you bought it.

I half-heartedly checked out Alaska’s  low price guarantee this weekend,  thinking there was no way I’d find a drop in price for a December flight to Hawaii that I’d bought a while ago.  But in about a minute, after a couple of clicks on the Alaska website, I ended up with a $60 refund (in the form of a credit to use on a future flight).  For once, an airline made me happy.

Co-workers of mine use Alaska’s low-fare guarantee regularly. One just got back $85.51 on a trip to Palm Springs. Another, who’s nicknamed  “Miles Boy” since he flies so much on Alaska and is a master at getting upgrades, estimates he’s saved about $1,000 over the last two years using the low-fare guarantee. (There’s also another Alaska  low-price program: You can get a refund if you find a cheaper fare for the same flights on a website other than Alaska’s within 24 hours of purchase.)

There are, of course, some restrictions when it comes to using Alaska’s fare guarantee.  You can’t change your original flights; it won’t work if your ticket includes flights on other airlines (although Horizon flights and two other small associated carriers are included);  and there are some timing restrictions. But check it out. It’s easy. And you can look  for fare changes frequently.

Here’s how: Assuming you bought your ticket online (although you can also try through a reservations agent), sign in to your account at Go to “My Trips” and open up your purchased ticket.  At the bottom right of the page that gives your flight details, you’ll see (in little type)  “Low Price Guarantee.” Click on that, and the website will search for a lower fare and cough it up if there’s one. That’s it. You can take your refund in the form of a credit for future flights that’s stored in your Alaska Airlines online wallet.

Here’s the fine print from the Alaska Airlines website:

To Qualify for Guaranteed Airfare:

  • You must be holding a fully unused ticket for flights  operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, Penair between Anchorage and  Dutch Harbor, and SkyWest Flight Series 3450-3499.
  • Itineraries that include any other airlines flights are not eligible for Guaranteed Airfare.
  • You must find a lower fare available for the exact same  flights, cabin, and dates of a ticketed reservation. You may not change to      different flights and/or dates to qualify.
  • You must meet all requirements of the new fare, including advance purchase requirements on the date of the Guaranteed  Airfare transaction, and change your ticket through or  Alaska Airlines Reservations. Credits cannot be processed through a travel  agent or other channel.
  • If you are on an upgrade list and later qualify for a  Guaranteed Airfare credit, you will lose your earlier position on the   upgrade list and must reapply for an upgrade.
  • The fully paid ticket issued in conjunction with a Bank  of America Companion Fare may be eligible for Guaranteed Airfare credit;      the companion ticket may have changes in taxes and fees.
  • If you have a nonrefundable ticket, any difference in  fare will be credited in the form of a credit certificate. Credit certificates   are not redeemable for cash, check or gift certificates. Credit certificates will be forfeited if obtained or used in an illegal or  fraudulent manner, or through unauthorized persons or channels.
  • If you have a fully refundable ticket and you find a   lower fare you will receive a refund to original form of payment.
  • Unpublished fares, award tickets (except Money and Miles awards), vacation packages or group discounts, tickets on  subcontractor, codeshare, or other offline flights are not subject to the Guaranteed Airfare rule.

Comments | More in airlines | Topics: Alaska Airlines, low fare guarantee, ticket refund


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