Keith Alexander provides a roundup of major carrier changes to their “use it or lose it” ticketing rule.
Upshot: on all the majors except USAirways you can now apply the value of an unused ticket towards future travel, and you have a year in which to book that future ticket.
On USAirways — which was the major carrier that introduced the older restrictive rules in the first place — you’re still hosed.
The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) provides the nitty gritty details.
Most of the carriers, for instance, require their passengers to call and cancel their original reservations in order to retain the value of their tickets. But Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines don’t.
The airlines also track time differently. Northwest says the clock starts ticking on its yearlong grace period on the date of the first flight on the customer’s itinerary. For Continental Airlines, American and others, though, the new tickets must be issued and travel must begin within one year of the date the original ticket was purchased.
Those aren’t the only things to look out for. Most of the airlines’ new rules don’t apply to tickets purchased by bidding on discount Web sites such as Hotwire.com and Priceline.com. At Delta, tickets purchased on travel Web sites other than Delta’s, including Travelocity.com or Orbitz.com, aren’t eligible for the loosened rules. United and Delta, meanwhile, relaxed their policies only on domestic tickets.
(For an airline by airline grid, see this Wall Street Journal .pdf.)