A lot of people don’t know about the Guaranteed Airfare Rule. Many airlines have it, and it basically says that if the fare goes down after you purchase the ticket, you are entitled to receive the difference. Most airlines will charge you $100 to reissue the ticket, so it only makes sense if the price went down A LOT, but some airlines, like US Airways, will actually let you receive the difference in the form of a voucher without any service charge.
So a few days ago when I realized that the fare on a trip to Puerto Vallarta had dropped by $80, I thought I’d try to get a refund in the form of a voucher.
I called reservations and they told me that since the new lower fare was an internet-only fare, I had to call the internet desk to get it done. Sure enough, when I called them, they said there was nothing they could do about it since it was an internet only fare. I was stuck.
At this point, I decided to write in to customer relations and see what happened. They wrote back only a couple days later with this text:
The Guaranteed Air Fare Rule applies to tickets purchased through US
Airways Reservations or through www.usairways.com. As with
most fare rules, certain restrictions and exceptions apply.
The original ticket must be fully unused and the reissued ticket (to the
decreased or new fare) must reflect the exact itinerary with no changes made to
dates, times, cities or passenger name. Additionally, all conditions ofthe new
fare must be met, including booking code, advance reservations andticketing
requirements. If the decreased or new fare is a fare for sale for a limited
period of time only, this rule does not apply. If the fare is limited to
Internet booking only, the rule does not apply, as this type of fare is not a
filed/published fare with industry reservation systems. In other words, a
Reservations agent must be able to view the decreased fare or new fare in our
When a fare qualifies for the Guaranteed Air Fare Rule, the customer may
request a refund of the fare difference. A $100 change fee per ticket will be
assessed; however, a customer may choose to receive the difference in fares in
voucher form. In that instance, the change fee would be waived. Should you still
have questions regarding the Guaranteed Air Fare Rule please contact our
Reservations Department at 1-800-428-4322 for assistance.
I’m lucky that I actually handled the domestic contract of carriage for America West while I was there, so I knew exactly where to look to see if this was true or not. Go to this page to see all the US Airways/America West contracts of carriage. Since I’m flying on America West to Mexico, I had to take a look at the ridiculously long international contract for America West.
Sure enough, upon further review, here is the text:
(D) EFFECTIVE RULES, FARES AND CHARGES ALL CARRIAGE OF PASSENGERS
AND/OR BAGGAGE SHALL BE SUBJECT TO THE CARRIER’S RULES,
REGULATIONS AND TARIFFS IN EFFECT ON THE DATE OF COMMENCEMENT
OF CARRIAGE COVERED BY THE FIRST FLIGHT COUPON ON THE TICKET.
(1) WHEN THE FARES OR CHARGES COLLECTED ARE NOT THE APPLICABLE FARES
OR CHARGES, THE DIFFERENCE WILL BE REFUNDED TO OR COLLECTED FROM THE PASSENGER AS MAY BE APPROPRIATE.
(2) IF AFTER A TICKET HAS BEEN ISSUED AND BEFORE ANY PORTION THEREOF
HAS BEEN USED, AN INCREASE OR DECREASE IN THE FARES OR CHARGES APPLICABLE
TO THE TRANSPORTATION COVERED BY THE TICKETS BECOMES EFFECTIVE, THE FULL
AMOUNT OF SUCH INCREASE OR DECREASE WILL BE COLLECTED FROM, OR REFUNDED TO
THE PASSENGER, AS THE CASE MAY BE. EXCEPTION: (APPLICABLE FOR LOCAL IN
THE U.S.A. AND A POINT OUTSIDE THE U.S.A.) NO INCREASES WILL BE COLLECTED IN
CASES WHERE THE TICKET HAS BEEN ISSUED PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF A
TARIFF CONTAINING AN INCREASE IN THE APPLICABLE LOCAL OR JOINT FARE, (SEE
NOTE BELOW) PROVIDED:
(A) THE ORIGINATING FLIGHT COUPON OF THE TICKET WAS ISSUED FOR
A SPECIFIC FLIGHT AT THE FARE CONTAINED IN A TARIFF LAWFULLY IN EFFECT ON
THE DATE OF TICKET ISSUANCE DETERMINED BY THE VALIDATION STAMPED OR IMPRINTED ON THE TICKET;
(B) THE ORIGINATING FLIGHT SHOWN ON THE TICKET IS NOT
VOLUNTARILY CHANGED AT THE PASSENGER\’S REQUEST SUBSEQUENT TO
THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF ANY INCREASE IN THE APPLICABLE FARE;
(C) THIS PROVISION SHALL APPLY ONLY TO THE PASSENGER TO WHOM THE TICKET WAS
ORIGINALLY ISSUED. NOTE: PURCHASE OF A PREPAID TICKET ADVICE (PTA) WILL
CONSTITUTE PURCHASE AND ISSUANCE OF A TICKET FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS RULE. THE
PROVISIONS OF THE CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE OR OF THIS TARIFF MAY BE ALTERED,
MODIFIED OR WAIVED ONLY IN WRITING BY AN AGENT, SERVANT OR REPRESENTATIVE OF
I told you this thing was wordy. You don’t even need to bother reading it, because what would matter isn’t in there. There is nothing saying that certain types of fares are excluded from the Guaranteed Airfare Rule. This means that they should owe me the difference. I sent that back today and I eagerly await their response. I’m fairly sure this will not be easy to get a hold of, but I’m persistent. I’ll keep you updated here.
The key takeaway from this is that you should always check the contract of carriage. For domestic flights, for example, they have a blanket statement saying that certain types of fares can be excluded from the Guaranteed Airfare Rule. (That seems completely unfair to me, but that’s a whole different story.) Since I’m flying internationally, I’m going to keep fighting for this.