In 2008, when Orbitz first introduced their Price Assurance program — their policy that provides refunds when another Orbitz customer buys the exact same ticket as you — I was skeptical. As I wrote then:
Orbitz will automatically send you a check IF AND ONLY IF another Orbitz customer purchases the same ticket you booked, and they do it for less money. If the price just goes down, but no one buys that ticket on Orbitz, you’re out of luck. No refund.
So when would you be more likely to win in the refund lottery? It would need to be a frequently purchased itinerary, so I’d be expecting it on major business routes like Washington-Chicago, San Francisco-New York, etc. Trying to get a price drop refund on that Bozeman, Montana to Fayetteville, North Carolina itinerary? Good luck with that.
So imagine my surprise — perhaps even comeuppance — when a pair of tickets I purchased on Orbitz on behalf of the in-laws ended up yielding a refund check. The proof is above (with the check numbers erased) and if you click the image, you’ll see the marketing language that’s on the stub, too. Oh, and it’s been cashed, so don’t try anything too clever, smart guy…
This dates back to a purchase made in late October. I bought two US Airways tickets from Providence, RI, to Charlotte, NC for dates in December. The price was an embarrassingly-cheap $117.90 per person, roundtrip, all taxes and fees included. (Fare war with JetBlue at the time, apparently.) But someone else somehow did even better a few days later, and booked the same exact itinerary for $97.90. So not only was there a refund — at all! — there was a refund of $20 per ticket on a stupidly-cheap fare.
About six weeks after the trip was completed, the check arrived. Cashed immediately.
I’m certainly glad that I got cash back from the trip, without doing anything. I’m grateful for that. But at the end of the day, it’s still not a real guarantee that you’ll always have the lowest-possible fare for a given flight. If someone books a lower fare on Travelocity, or directly from the airline, you’re not getting a check.
The stars aligned for me. I got lucky, plain and simple.