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Options Away: Insurance Against Airfare Hikes

Options Away: Insurance Against Airfare Hikes

If you’ve searched for a flight, found a good fare, failed to pull the trigger, and come back the next day to find the fare is now out of your range, Rob and Heidi Brown have felt your pain.

So they want to offer you options. For a price, you can sit on that nice fare for up to 21 days without buying the ticket but with no risk of paying a higher fare.

What you are buying is an option. If you’re a trader or work in finance, you don’t need this explained to you. If not, here’s a simplification. Options Away (the Browns’ company) will sell you the right to buy a plane ticket within a certain timeframe at a certain price. If the airfare goes up within your option’s time frame, good for you—you can buy the ticket, paying your optioned fare, and Options Away pays the difference. If the airfare goes down within your option’s timeframe, you simply ignore your option and buy your ticket at its now lower fare. Either way, you’re out the option fee, but you are not obligated to buy the ticket.

The price for being allowed to dither about your travel plans is calculated by a proprietary algorithm. A 24-hour hold is only a few dollars, but airlines are actually legally required to refund your money if you cancel a ticket within 24 hours. (Options Away counters that what you’re buying in this case is the convenience of not having to deal with airlines to get a refund.)

You can also buy options that expire in three days, seven days, 14 days, and 21 days, though not all options are available for all flights. Costs range from $4 to $55 or more.

Explore your options at the company's Web site.


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