Photo: SynthEx (Shutterstock)
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic turned air travel upside down, there were still many opportunities for inconvenience – like if your flight was delayed or canceled (or if a decent food option was closed at the airport when you needed it most). But with so many changes in the last year, there could be a flight waiting for you in the next weeks or months that you can’t take (remember when people thought we were up now and functioning as a normal company?).
Instead of waiting for the airline to send you a notification of the cancellation of your future flight, Nick Ewan on The Points Guy I just shared a method to find out this information in advance – in some cases even before the airline. Here’s how to do it and when it might be useful.
How to check if your flight has been canceled
Ewan first tells of his family’s plans to travel to Asia in May 2020 (which of course never materialized, but was rebooked for May 2021) to explain why this technique is useful. Feel free Read this part, but we’ll move on to the hack.
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While major airlines have been adjusting (and re-adjusting) routes and flight schedules for almost a year, it’s still an ongoing process. In fact, flight plans are not finalized until weeks before departure, Notes Ewan which means you may have upcoming flights that appear normal when you review your booking but never take off. So he recommends the following:
Find the flight as if you were booking a new ticket. If it doesn’t appear, it is a clear indication that it will be canceled in the coming days (or weeks).
Now there’s always the chance that [a] Flight could simply be sold out (and therefore not appear in the search results), but with There are practically no international travel requirements, that is almost certainly not the case.
One caveat: the airline is able to resume a canceled flight – although this is unusual.
How is this information useful?
As Ewan points out, this isn’t necessarily a strategy to save money. First, with all of the new – and much more flexible – airline policies that have been in place since the pandemic began, you can easily do so in advance if you want to cancel your flight, change your booking to another flight or receive travel vouchers.
And in situations where you want to completely cancel the flight, you’d better wait until just before your travel date to see if the airline cancels things in the end. Ewan says this is because if you take the first step and cancel your flight before the airline, you will likely get a voucher instead of a full refund (in case that makes a difference to you).
But what this information is useful for Ewan is writingis peace of mind. So this is relevant for his rebooked trip to Asia:
I know we are not going to Asia this May and I intend to cancel both our outbound and return flights. If I know with reasonable certainty that our Japan Airlines itinerary will fundamentally change in the next few weeks, I shouldn’t rush to cancel. If I do this, I’ll have less flexible travel credit.
I’d rather get my miles back and a full refund of taxes and fees. After all, there is no guarantee that our trip will be in 2022.
But this trick can come in handy even without a pandemic – as life can change between the booking and the actual trip, and you have a better chance of a refund.