When an non-refuntable airline ticket is booked on many web sites, I think the ticket must be paid for within 24 hours or it's automatically cancelled.

If the price went down or didn't increast "too much" in that 24 hour period, would it be possible to have a daily routine that included booking another ticket on a different web site, different credit card (both cards issued to Robert Smith)?

So to play this out, let's say the price of the ticket is $1,500 and it's a few months from the departure date. This itinerary has, in the past, gone down to the $1,000 range, and you want to go for the low price. So on day 1, I reserve the ticket on site "A" for $1,500. on day 2, the price goes to 1,450 and I reserve the ticket on site "B", letting the first ticket expire, unpaid. Of course this would have to continue every single day, and there could be a situation where the price goes up. The purchase might be made when the flight goes on sale to $995 and the next day pops-up significantly to $1100 when the sale ends.

Admittedly, that's a lot of effort, but I just wonder what would stop someone from doing that.

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    This is even easier in the US, where the law allows you to cancel any ticket within 24 hours for a full refund, whether you've already paid or not, as long as the flight is at least one week ahead. dot.gov/affairs/2012/dot0812.html. I don't think there's anything that could stop you from doing this, but since prices fluctuate both up and down, I don't think it would last more than one or two cycles, and the savings would probably be marginal. Jul 30, 2014 at 14:21
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    Surely they can refuse to sell you another ticket.
    – neo
    Jul 30, 2014 at 18:02
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    While I have noticed prices fluctuating up and down, I haven't seen an advance ticket (>2 weeks) change its price more than once every 72 hours. That alone would keep this scheme from working.
    – wallyk
    Jul 30, 2014 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


A substantial number of non-refundable tickets require pre-payment when you make the booking. But you have a 24 hour grace period to change your mind and cancel the booking for a full refund.

Depending on the airline in question, when you called in to cancel your booking and the agent looked up your name, both bookings would show (possibly with matching billing data on the credit card). This unto itself might not raise a red flag, but multiple occurrences might.

Also your credit card issuer(s) might start questioning why you are paying and then having the payment refunded within 24 hours at the same merchant over and over again.

And then there is always the factor of how rapidly the airline refunds your money, you could tie up quite a bit of your credit line.

There is no law against it, though if the airline determines you are gaming the system, they have their actions. As an example in Delta's Contract of Carriage, they have the right to determine a ticket to be invalid .... "D) If Delta determines that the ticket has been purchased or used in a manner designed to circumvent applicable fare rules."

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