Citi Prestige 24 Hour Free Cancellation on Pay for Flights with Points
This morning I wrote about how to transfer Citi ThankYou points from one account to the other. The inspiration for that post was a recent transfer I made for an upcoming trip to Hawaii. My wife transferred ThankYou points to me so I could use them to book an American Airline codeshare on Alaska Airlines at 1.6 cents per point as a Prestige cardholder.
Too Smart For My Own Good
I thought I had really outsmarted the system. Since I booked it as an American Airlines ticket, I was able to get 1.6 cents value from my ThankYou points, however we are actually flying on Alaska Airlines metal. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that I wasn’t as smart as I had thought. I wanted to apply a Guest Upgrade to the reservation, but wasn’t able to since the ticket was on AA stock.
While this policy makes sense, I was in a bit of a pickle. I had actually booked my ticket with cash (using a coupon code) and had already applied my upgrade. The Citi ticket was for my wife and son (and infant daughter.) Lets just say my wife wasn’t happy when I told her the news. Even though I offered to give her my seat, she wanted us together to make it easier to deal with the baby.
Finding a Solution
Before I made the drastic move of cancelling my upgrade (gasp), I decided to call Citi up to see if there was any way I could cancel the American Airlines reservation. After navigating their terrible phone system, I reached an agent, explained my situation and told her why I wanted to cancel.
I explained to her that I needed to book the ticket on Alaska stock and not American. She then very confidently advised me that even if I booked the ticket on Alaska stock that it wouldn’t be upgradeable. I politely told her to cancel it anyway, she then placed me on hold and came back to confirm the reservation had been cancelled. It was all a little too easy.
I found it hard to believe that Citi makes it that easy to cancel reservations, so I decided to ask the agent for the official policy before hanging up with her. She explained that only Citi Prestige cardholders are allowed to cancel for free within 24 hours. I had never heard of this before and in my opinion it is just another reason why this may be the best premium travel card around.
This free cancellation can be a potentially powerful tool if used properly. Think about all of the cheap American Airlines flights the other day. Since ThankYou points are worth 1.6 cents each for flights on American Airlines, you can now speculatively book itineraries with points and then cancel if they don’t work out. So you get the ability to redeem points and the cancellation flexibility of booking directly with the airline. Of course flights booked with ThankYou points also earn miles and elite credit.
Did We Get the Upgrade?
To close out the story, after booking the new ticket online at 1.33 cents each on Alaska stock (about a 2,500 point difference per ticket), I went online and received an error when trying to apply the upgrade. I then called the Alaska MVP Gold line and was told the ticket class I was booked in was not eligible to be upgraded.
Fortunately the agent then looked at how much it would cost to change the fare class and discovered it wouldn’t cost anything. I assume this is because the price Citi paid was the same as a normal upgrade eligible fare on Alaska’s website. Either way, she made a tweak in the system and all was fixed. I was then able to apply the upgrades without issue.
The 24 hour free cancellation policy for Citi Prestige cardholders on flights booked with ThankYou points is a very powerful perk of holding the card. I don’t know if this benefit is common knowledge, but I couldn’t find any information about it before calling in. In the end, I am really happy with my Prestige card and my wife is happy that we are all together and in first class.
Did you know about this benefit? Am I just the last one to find out? Let me know in the comments!