Cheap Refundable Hawaii Airfares Now A Great Alternative To Insurance

Why Cheap New “Refundable” Hawaii Airfare Options Are Brilliant

Who doesn’t worry about the implications of needing to change or cancel a flight for any reason? And it happens. Just this month, Beat of Hawaii had the experience of an editor needing to cancel a trip after getting food poisoning. So then what?

Hawaii Flights can be protected in differentways:

1. Those who fly Southwest swear by the ability to cancel any flight and have the funds returned to their wallet.

2. The same, albeit less flexible, is generally true (though not in basic economy) at the other airlines flying to Hawaii.

But in reality, unless you are a frequent traveler with one of these airlines, having money in a “wallet” for a future trip that you may or may not take is simply a hassle. Airlines are counting on the money in these wallets, often not getting used. Most airlines require that funds be used within 12 months of the original purchase, whereas Southwest funds never expire. In any event, if you’re a frequent traveler with one airline, this may not seem like a problem. For us, these travel credits are at best a nuisance, as  we need to keep track of them and remember to use them before they expire.

3. Trip insurance coverage can be purchased to refund your money in the event of a cancellation for insured reasons.

The problem with trip insurance is multi-fold. First, it is expensive. It can cost anywhere from 10-15% or more of the purchase price. Add to that the need to file a claim and deal with insurance companies and their rules in order to hopefully get your money back. We’ve done it and it definitely isn’t fun.

Enter cheap refundable Hawaii airfare options—a new and fast-growing industry trend.

When editor Jeff needed to cancel not one but two flights after contracting food poisoning, it was very concerning. This was for two business-class international flights, and the price wasn’t cheap. But what happened is this. He had purchased one of the tickets on Qatar Airways. And that business class ticket was refundable except for a 5% service charge. Therein was a no-brainer solution Jeff took advantage of online following a brief customer service phone call. The result was an almost immediate refund of 95% of his purchase price to the original payment.

Next up was a Delta Air Lines flight (that you will soon see reviewed here).

Ultimately, Jeff didn’t need to cancel that flight, although he thought he would have to. The good news is that when he purchased that ticket, he paid an extra 15% to have it refundable to the original payment method. So there was never any significant concern about losing out, needing to put the money into an airline account wallet, or dealing with a trip insurance claim.

United Airlines refundable tickets are another excellent option.

One of BOH’s editors just bought a ticket to fly from Hawaii internationally, with connections in Denver outbound and Los Angeles when returning to Hawaii. The cost of adding refundability to the original payment method was  15%. Again, that represents a very good value for the ability not to require trip insurance and not have to refund the money to a wallet, but rather be able to change one’s mind and hit cancel at any point prior to flight.

Hawaiian Airlines joins in offering inexpensive refundable tickets.

Yesterday BOH was looking at airfares on Hawaiian Airlines for the article we just published about the pros and cons of the new Hawaiian Airlines Dreamliner. What we were happy to discover is seen in the image above. Before this, our experience was that Hawaiian Airlines’ refundable fares were so costly as to be prohibitive. But that is no longer the case. The fee to add complete refundability to the above ticket was just under 7.5%, which is a great value.

Why is refundability better than travel insurance?

There are times when travel insurance is unavoidable, and international travel is one of those times. We honestly try to avoid trip insurance for domestic travel to and from Hawaii, as insurance is complicated and costly. You must carefully select all the right coverage options to take advantage of the insurance. The alternative ability to hit cancel on a ticket means you don’t need to insure it if you change your mind or can’t commence travel.

A 24-hour free cancellation option is always included, no matter the airline.

We can’t tell you how often this has worked for many reasons. You buy flights to Hawaii and then can’t align it with reasonable accommodations or car rental. Or we’ve even had the experience of inadvertently buying tickets and suddenly realizing they were for the wrong day.

The US DOT requires that airlines offer protection for 24 hours after booking. The only requirement is that your ticket be bought no less than seven days before the flight. This offer can be in one of two forms. Either the airline must offer the ability to cancel and receive a refund within 24 hours, or they can offer the ability to hold the ticket for 24 hours before payment is required.

The airline industry is returning to refundable airfares, and we love it! What about you?



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10 thoughts on “Why Cheap New “Refundable” Hawaii Airfare Options Are Brilliant”

  1. Medicare may be one reason to buy trip insurance outside of trip cancellation benefits. While Medicare Supplement plans may cover international medical expenses, the lifetime limit is relatively low $50,000. Travel insurance can provide more coverage, but is still generally limited based on the policy. In general, insurance is best used for catastrophic coverage, as it’s cheaper to only pay for what one can’t reasonably self-insure.

  2. I’m searching now for flights and the prices are more than 15 percent for refundable, so still watching. But I will not buy a flight unless some from of returnable.

  3. Aloha BOH – it’s good to know about refundable options and travel insurance. Is travel insurance purchased per trip contain coverage much different that than provided by most credit cards? I agree that SWA’s travel credits and lack of fees make changing travel plans quite flexible verses other carriers.

    Mahalo for great reporting.

    1. Hi Peter.

      Thanks! Yes it is very different, and the one you buy has many more options, but of course there’s a cost. Suggest trying a site like just as a starting point where you can shop a myriad of clauses and prices. Please let us know what you find out.


  4. Alaska Airlines also offers a refundable option on most “main cabin” fares. My experience for a Seattle/Anchorage round trip is a $10 up charge makes the ticket refundable for any reason. And then – of course it happened two weeks ago: I was down with Covid and cancelled——-fare and taxes were immediately refunded to my Alaska/BofA credit card and a quick call to BofA and the check was in the mail. Jim E

  5. Aloha Rob+Jeff. I think it’s great and about time to implement this. Hope you are doing well after your food poisoning. Keep up the great work and I sure appreciate all your information on current events. Mahalo and warm regards.

  6. I have 10 employees in Europe now, and as always I purchase travel insurance. However, I don’t buy it from the airlines, I buy from But, there are dozens of comapnies. These companies offer cancel for any reason or specific reasons. And, they offer other does travel cancellation and luggage. The offer things like expatriation, death, medical etc etc

    1. Hi Rod.

      We’d concur with you about trip insurance from an independent source, rather than from an airline. Keep in mind that cancel for any reason coverage is an option that in addition to other restrictions, never returns more than 75% of the amount of the claim.


  7. I had to cancel a trip to Hawaii a few months ago when my husband was hospitalized with a heart issue. I booked with miles, so those were redeposited without any fee. I did lose out on the seat fees, which were refunded as vouchers that can be used for airfare and not for seat fees (which makes no sense). We did lose about $3000 on a non-refundable condo rental. I had thought my Chase Sapphire Reserve would cover the cost, but the paperwork was so daunting when dealing with a health crisis and I read so many stories online about Chase ruling that things were pre-existing conditions that I didn’t bother to file a claim. From now on we will only be booking lodging that can be canceled within 3 days of travel.

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