How to freeze a flight price in 2023 - all you need to know

How To Freeze A Flight Price: What You Need To Know (2023)

Can you freeze a flight price? One of the most exasperating things when booking travel is seeing the prices change in real time. Planning a trip in 2023 is much easier than 50 years ago when you would have to physically go to a travel agency (maybe more than once) to finish all the arrangements. The internet and online travel agents made things much easier and way more overwhelming. Companies use lots of tricks to make you feel that everything is urgent and you MUST BOOK NOW *ugh*. And there are even AI tools to help you book flights and hotels, things can get pretty complex.

But hey, things are changing for the better, and every day, more ways are available to protect yourself against sudden price changes. In this post, I revisit all the ways you can freeze a flight price if you are not ready to book just yet.

To the point

  1. First, try booking through the airline directly. You can often pay a small fee to hold your reservation for up to several days and get free 24-hour cancellation.
  2. If that doesn’t work, try services like Kayak, Kiwi, or Hopper that offer a price freeze service for a few days.

How To Freeze A Flight Price in 2023

Let’s keep it short, here are the different ways you can lock the flight fare.

  • Place a hold on your flight with the airline. As of 2023, plenty of airlines allow you to place a hold on a flight for a certain period; check this full list below. It works pretty straightforward: you pay a small fee ($5-$30), then the airline gives you “time to think” for up to 72h. They promise to keep the same price you saw, which gives you more time to finish your booking
  • Purchase a ticket through a third-party website. Some aggregators, booking platforms, and meta-search engines offer a price freeze package or a price guarantee mechanism that you can use. Here are some examples:
  • Kayak and Hopper offer Price Freeze just like the airlines. You pay a fee and they hold the same price for several days. They can do this because they can “predict” how much the flight prices are going to be based on historical data (see my Kayak Best Time To Book review).
  • Kiwi offers a Price Lock option that holds your ticket price for 72 hours. If the price increases, you’ll pay the lower locked price, and Kiwi will cover the rest (up to €200). If it decreases, you’ll get to pay the new lower price. If the trip price increases to more than €200, or if it sells out before you complete your booking, Kiwi will refund your deposit.
  • Google Flights (US only) includes a free Price Guarantee insurance. After you book, they monitor the price until the first flight in your itinerary departs. If the price dropped, they’ll email you and pay the difference back in Google Pay. If the price didn’t go down, you got the best price with Google Flights. To get money back, the price difference must be greater than 5 USD. You can receive up to 500 USD back total per calendar year for up to 3 open Price guaranteed bookings at any one time.
  • Use a price protection service. This used to be more popular before, and then it died out. There are still a number of companies that sell a price protection service, which will refund you the difference if the price of your flight drops after you book it. It’s like an extra insurance. One popular option is Airfarewatchdog.
  • Use a travel agent (yes, old school). Some travel agents deal directly with “distrobutors” and are able to freeze a flight price for a certain period of time, even for free. This can be a good option if you’re not sure when you’ll be ready to book your flight. Find a local office near you or give them a call. It’s usually better to go in person. In Sweden, there’s that has offices around the city and every shopping mall.
Kayak and Hopper offer Price Freeze: a simple way to freeze a flight price in 2023.

Free 24-Hour Flight Cancellation: How Does It Work?

The 24h free cancellation rules are not an “official” way to freeze a flight price, but can be used for that. I took advantage of that many times and it works great. If I see an option that convinces me, I just purchase it, and I keep looking for alternatives. If I find a better one within a day, I just cancel it.

How does it work?

Several countries have consumer protection laws in place that protect passengers that made a mistake or regret from making a purchase during the first 24 hours since the booking is placed. This varies across continents, but the conditions are more or less similar.

We don’t have that in Argentina for example, legislation is being developed as I write this post. In other countries, there are no applicable laws, but the airlines still respect that to attract more customer and be more competitive.

In the US, the rule is set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). It says that airlines must allow customers to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment. In addition, airlines must allow a purchased reservation to be canceled within 24 hours without penalty, providing a full refund to the original form of payment. The rule applies to every airline that operates to, from, and within the U.S. but not if you make a reservation less than 7 days before the flight’s departure date.

In the European Union, there isn’t a blanket 24-hour cancellation rule for all airline tickets like there is in the United States. However, some airlines do offer their own cancellation policies, so it’s always best to check with the specific airline before booking. It’s also worth noting that if you purchase a ticket online or over the phone directly from an airline operating in the EU, you generally have the right to a full refund if you cancel within 7 days, as long as the departure date is at least 7 days away. This is due to the EU’s Distance Selling Regulations, which protect consumers in remote sales situations.

Here’s a quick table summarizing some of these countries and conditions.

CountryApplies to24h cancellation periodRefund percentageOther conditions
United StatesFlights to or from the USWithin 24 hours of booking100%Must be booked directly with the airline at least 7 days in advance of the flight.
CanadaFlights to or from CanadaWithin 24 hours of booking100%Must be booked directly with the airline at least 7 days in advance of the flight.
European UnionFlights within the EUWithin 7 days of booking100%Must be booked directly with the airline and canceled at least 7 days before of the flight.
AustraliaFlights to or from AustraliaWithin 24 hours of booking100%Must be booked directly with the airline at least 7 days in advance of the flight.
New ZealandFlights to or from New ZealandWithin 24 hours of booking100%Must be booked directly with the airline at least 7 days in advance of the flight.

Airline Hold Policies (Updated June 2023)

Here’s the full list of the different airlines’ hold policies when it comes to periods and fees. Note that the restrictions might change depending on the type of ticket you are trying to book, and the cabin class. For example, some airlines have shorter periods on more premium cabins (e.g. Air New Zealand), or they might not allow holding the flight price for basic economy fares.

Remember to check the airline’s specific conditions before actually confirming and paying the hold fee.

AirlineHold Period*Hold Fee
Aer Lingus24 hours€10
Aeroflot72 hoursRUB2000
Air Asia48 hoursRM10
Air Arabia24 hoursAED20
Air Baltic72 hours€10
Air Canada7 daysCAD10
Air China72 hours¥100
Air France14 days€10
Air India7 daysINR500
Alitalia48 hours€10
American Airlines7 days$10
Austrian Airlines7 days€10
Avianca72 hoursCOP100
British Airways72 hours£5-10
Bulgarian Air24 hoursBGN10
Cathay Pacific7 daysHK$100
China Eastern Airlines72 hours¥100
China Southern Airlines72 hours¥100
Delta Air Lines7 days$10
Emirates72 hoursAED50
Etihad Airways72 hoursAED50
Finnair3 days€10
Garuda Indonesia72 hoursIDR100,000
Hawaiian Airlines3-7 days$4.99-15
Icelandair24 hoursISK500
Indigo72 hoursINR500
Japan Airlines7 daysJPY1000
JetBlue24 hoursFree
KLM14 days€10-15
Korean Air72 hoursKRW10,000
Lufthansa7 days€10
Malaysia Airlines72 hoursMYR50
Qantas7 daysAUD10
Royal Air Maroc72 hoursMAD100
SAS7 daysSEK100
Singapore Airlines72 hoursSGD10
Southwest Airlines24 hoursFree
TAP Air Portugal24 hours€10
Turkish Airlines72 hoursTRY100
United Airlines3-14 days$10-20
Virgin Atlantic7 days£10
Wizz Air48 hours€4-9
Viva Air24 hoursCOP100
Vueling24 hours€10
WestJet24 hoursCAD10
Yeti Airlines24 hoursNPR200
Zipair24 hoursJPY1000
Zest Airways24 hoursPHP100
Wow Air24 hoursISK500
Vueling24 hours€10
Spirit Airlines24 hours$10
Turkish Airlines72 hoursTRY100
Turkish Airlines24 hoursTRY50
Qatar Airways24 hoursQAR100
Etihad Airways24 hoursAED100

*up to.

Wrap up

It’s great to see more options to freeze a flight price, and observe how this space evolve to accomodate what travelers want. The market is changing quicker than ever before, with more options and products for flyers. In the pandemic, we saw that airlines were losing so much money that they offered plenty of flexibility for rescheduling, changing and cancelling tickets. Fast-forward until today, things are tighter are more strict again.

Luckily, there are ways to work around it and buy a bit of extra time to decide and plan for accessible fees. Personally, I use Kayak, Kiwi, or Google Flights to find the flights I want, then I book directly with the airline and purchase and extended hold period, as I feel more safe. I’ve also used the 24h cancellation period many, many times. It works great and never had an issue with that.

But I also find the price freeze options useful, I gave them a show 2 times, but I ended up wasting $38 and $48 in fees, because the prices didn’t go up. I guess it is convenient if you are using Hopper’s carrot rewards as you can pay for the fees using your accumulated cashback.

What has your experience been? Would love to hear your throughts, drop comments below! BTW I will keep this list updated every month.

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