If you buy a flight in/from the US, there is a legal 24 hour free cancellation period, in which a flight can be cancelled for free, as long as it is bought seven days ahead of departure.

Is it possible to roll over this period, over multiple days? Say buy on Monday midday, Tuesday morning cancel and buy same again, and do the same for multiple days, as long as you do this before the 7 days deadline? I am wondering whether this is 1) legal 2) allowed but companies


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    I'm truly curious what the purpose of doing this would be? Are you planning to travel, but aren't really sure if you're going? Do you expect to benefit by already having a ticket in hand at a (presumably) lower price once you finally commit to going? I'm not criticizing, I just don't understand the logic for wanting to do this. – FreeMan Dec 5 '19 at 13:02

You aren't "rolling over" anything, you are availing yourself of the same right multiple times. But there are downsides:

  1. Companies don't have to sell to people abusing their systems - they can block your account and payment methods to prevent you abusing their booking systems

  2. There is no guarantee that the booking you just cancelled will be immediately available again - airlines overbook flights based on a number of parameters, and you cancelling your booking may end up with no seats available because the flight is already overbooked by a given number

  3. As per comment from Nate, the seat may still be available, at a higher price

So, the risk is entirely yours, not the airlines.

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    And a more common version of #2: the itinerary may still be available, but now at a higher price. – Nate Eldredge Dec 5 '19 at 4:16
  • It should also be noted that the 24 cancellation only applies to airlines, not aggregators (even though most good ones will let you). Companies like ExploreTrip will charge you for cancellation). – Sagar Dec 5 '19 at 15:50
  • Thanks! I guess number #2 and #3 can be largely circumvented by looking at the whether similar booking options are currently available. – Matifou Dec 5 '19 at 16:50
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    @Matifou or even booking the new one first before cancelling the old one. – GS - Apologise to Monica Dec 5 '19 at 18:13
  • With no response from the OP, could you explain the perceived value of doing this? I'm confused why someone would want to - what benefit would I (conceivably) be getting from booking/cancelling multiple times? – FreeMan Dec 6 '19 at 20:36

What you are referring to is called "Churning".

Depending on where you are booking the ticket (eg, via a travel agent or directly with the airline) it is likely against the terms and service of the airline for either you or the travel agents. Doing it a small number of times will not be an issue, but if it's done repeated then you can expect the travel agent or the airline to take action - up to and including canceling your booking and not allowing you to make any future bookings.

There are a number of other issues, including the fact that the refund can potentially take several days or even several weeks to be processed and returned to your credit card.

And of course, this presumes that you can actually rebook at the same price - which as the flight gets closer is likely not to be the case.

Also note that the "legal" requirement you're referring to is only a legal requirement in the US. Also, airlines do not have to allow you to cancel the ticket, but may instead offer the ability to hold a ticket for 24 hours before purchasing it, in which case the cancel-with-24-hours requirement does NOT apply.

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    FWIW, I've never heard "churning" used that way. I think a much more common usage of that is to refer to credit card churning (taking advantage of signup bonuses on credit cards to earn airline miles). – Cody Dec 5 '19 at 21:09
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    @Cody It is an extremely common travel industry term, as Googling for something like booking churning will show you. – Doc Dec 6 '19 at 5:53
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    Yep if I were running an airline, detecting instances of this would be one of my anti-"fraud" measures in the POS system. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 6 '19 at 14:21
  • Then consider editing your answer to actually use the full phrase "booking churning". I read your answer, thought "huh, never heard that before", googled "churning", and found a bunch of articles about credit card churning. – Cody Dec 7 '19 at 6:15

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