Level Skies – refundable flights for everyone.

When I find a super deal on a flight, I know I need to act fast. You snooze, you lose is definitely the name of the game when it comes to snapping up low fares.

Since I’m usually booking flights for my entire family, I can’t just play fast and loose with dates: I need to confirm with my husband before I lock anything down. But sometimes Josh is unreachable at work (meetings, travel, simply ignoring me…) so I have to roll the dice and make some big travel decisions without his input.

Usually this works out fine, but occasionally it can be a huge (and expensive) problem if the dates I choose don’t work for our family calendar. That is why every so often, when I am booking a flight, my fingers hover longingly over the “refundable” ticket option. It’s always a fleeting moment, however, because the prices are prohibitively expensive – typically at least double the price of a regular, non-refundable, fare.

Enter Level Skies. I think I love them.

What does Level Skies do?

This is simple, yet brilliant: Level Skies lets you reserve an airline ticket – for up to four weeks – while you figure out your plans.

The way it works is that you provide a range of dates that you are considering, then purchase a “smart fare” ticket, locking it in at a certain price. When you are ready to book, you select your flight and get an actual ticket.

If the ticket price has gone up since you locked in your “smart fare,” you don’t have to worry about it because you’re not paying an extra dime. If the price has gone down, Level Skies will refund the difference.

If you decide that you don’t want to fly at all, you can request a refund and get your money back (95% of the Locked Fare price, on average).

In other words: fair prices, no change fees, and no cancellation fees.

Hallelujah!

A real, live example

I decided to try this for myself. First, I selected my departure city (San Francisco) and my destination (Las Vegas). I moved the little plane sliders at the bottom to indicate my desired date range (I’m flexible on my departure date, but not on my return).

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Next, I clicked the “show more options” button. This is where you can choose things like “no red-eye” or if you want only “major” airlines versus “major + budget” airlines.

This is also where you decide how much time you need to make up your mind. You can have from 1-4 weeks to make a decision on your travel plans. The more specific you are about the type of flight you need and the longer you need to decide on that flight, the higher the locked fare will be.

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My price was $215 round-trip. This is approximately the same price as Virgin’s non-refundable fares…but I would have four weeks to decide if I wanted to book this flight or not.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.22.35 PM I decided to take a peek at what Virgin’s refundable fares were, for comparison purposes. Turns out that they are more than double the price, at $534 round-trip. Yikes!

virgin flights

I went ahead and booked. I wanted to see what actually happened. Once I paid for the flight, I had these options to choose from:

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Since this was essentially a trial run, I didn’t click any of the options. I clicked the “refund” button instead and got this message:

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.46.16 PM

Then I clicked “submit.”

Done and done!

Things to note:

• Currently, you can only select Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and New York as departure cities.

• Here are the currently available destinations:

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.18.14 PM

• You do need to pay a small fee for this service. I paid $5 – well worth the ability to lock in a decent fare and having the convenience of having a full four weeks to make a decision.

• You have the opportunity to enter your rewards or frequent-flier information when you apply your locked fare towards a ticket.

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I’m excited about this. I feel like it levels the playing field a little so that non-elite flyers can also enjoy a little breathing room on the decision-making process.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Points Pixie,

    Hey Pixie!
    This looks like a great service.
    I travel frequently for business and there are times when I’m travelling with several associates and the dates jump around because 1 or more people in the group will have to change his/her date after we’ve locked things in.

    One time we blew a couple grand because of this vacillation.
    I’m going to share this with my team today.

    As usual – very helpful. Thanks!

  2. This is an incredible service. How do you think they can pull this off and be profitable? Can it be that itty-bitty service fee? How is this not too good to be true?

  3. Neil Spellings says:

    I think the “for everyone” in the title is stretching it somewhat as you can only do this from four US airports so the title should really be “for a very small minority”

    Interesting concept..you are really purchasing “indecision insurance” up front!

    • I read “everyone” in the sense that we don’t have to qualify or have status or something to get this perk. Besides it’s safe to guess that their goal is to extend this to more airports and people – thus everyone, and thus more profits. And yet still, it will only be for everyone who wants to travel, everyone who can afford the time and costs, and everyone who wants “indecision insurance” — great term, btw!

  4. having airline status is a good thing.

  5. Seldom do I change, but when I do, I just suck it up and pay the $150 change fee + fare difference. It’s just me tho, family of 4 gets pricy! Sometimes it’s cheaper, I’ve been finding on Alaska lately, and now I have credits. I’m not sure what benefits status has, sounds like something I should check out tho!

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