Airlines are required by the “24-hour reservation requirement” rule to issue customers a full refund if they cancel their flight within 24 hours of purchasing a ticket.
All airlines that run flights inside the United States as well as those that fly in and out are subject to this regulation. Even if the fare was marked as non-refundable, the airline is required by the Department of Transportation to reimburse the full amount of the fare to the payment method used to make the reservation.
Only those who book directly with the airline are subject to this benefit. If you book your flight through a travel agency, you must follow their refund guidelines.
Airlines that let you hold a fare for 24 hours are another thing to be wary of. By providing this service, the airline is technically allowing you 24 hours to release the hold. As a result, they are fulfilling their part of the criteria, claims the DOT. You will no longer be able to benefit from the 24-hour rule if you hold a fare and ultimately purchase it.
Last but not least, flights booked within a window of 7 days before departure are exempt from this rule. You cannot benefit from the 24-hour rule if you book a flight for a Friday on the Monday before.
When and how to take advantage of the rule
Not only when you have a family emergency and you have to cancel. You can also use it to save some money. If you buy a ticket and it drops significantly in price within 24 hours, you can use the rule to cancel it and rebook it at a lower price.