If you subscribe to my free newsletter, then you know what a difference a week makes. Ten days ago, I was sick in bed. In fact, I’ve never been sicker with what I assume was a crazy bout of the flu – here are the details. In short, I had a high fever for a week and went to two doctors, twice, just to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia. I’ve been hearing of a lot of people getting pneumonia and I have a history of asthma so I didn’t want to take any chances.
Fortunately, I didn’t catch pneumonia but I did develop an upper respiratory infection (I’ll spare you the details). I know my body and it takes me a while to get over these types of nasty infections so I’ve decided to lay low for a few weeks.
Unfortunately, that meant making the difficult decision to cancel a trip to New York City for the International Media Marketplace (IMM), one of the best travel conferences around for media. I’ve been looking forward to IMM for months but I don’t want to risk getting sicker or worse, picking up something else at a conference that welcomes hundreds of people from all over the world.
To give you an idea how international it is: The last time I was at IMM was January 2020. One of the keynote speakers said he’d just returned from Wuhan where they were experiencing an outbreak of sorts. I thought to myself, “I just read about that Chinese city for the first time and I’m going to stay away from this speaker.” Little did I know what was in store for the world. Somehow, thankfully, I didn’t get sick on that trip.
Instead of canceling my trip at the last minute, I did it a week ago to let the organizers fill my spot. However, I didn’t cancel my plane tickets until just a few minutes ago. The reason is because I was waiting to see if my LAX-JFK flight at 11:36am today either got canceled or was severely delayed (by two hours or more) because if it did, I would have gotten a full refund instead of getting a travel credit.
I’m not complaining because one of the best things that came out of the pandemic was that many airlines did away with change fees as long as you don’t buy a Basic Economy ticket. I only paid $169 for my American Airlines (AA) flight and thanks to the no change fees, I could cancel and get a $169 credit to be used in a year from when I purchased it (November). If this was 2019, I would have lost that $169 because AA charged a ridiculous $200 change fee so it wasn’t even worth canceling.
The reason why I didn’t cancel it a week ago is because I have so many AA credits that I don’t need anymore. Plus, cash is king. So I kept checking the weather in New York and when it appeared that there weren’t going to be any storms, I realized that the chances of the flight (especially this popular one with a special retrofitted plane) had a slim chance of canceling. So I tracked my inbound aircraft using Flighty and the American Airlines app and then waited until it took off from JFK.
Ideally, I should have waited until 30 minutes prior to departure to cancel but I know this flight rarely, if ever, cancels or has a significant delay (see screenshot above from Flighty). AA requires it to be two hours or more to get your money back. I canceled three hours before departure because I didn’t want to risk forgetting to cancel, because if I did forget, I would have lost the value of the ticket.
Another important thing to consider, if you book your plane ticket through a third party, then you most likely will have to contact them and it’s not always easy. That’s why I book direct because I can just cancel in the airline’s app or on their website with a couple of clicks. No hoops to jump through or phone calls with potentially have long hold times that could foil the plan.
FYI: After I canceled on AA’s app, I received the automated email (screenshot above) immediately with my travel credit details.
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