Freebird Lets You Rebook Cancelled Flights—For Free
Up until about a year ago, travelers in the U.S. had little to no recourse for severely delayed or cancelled flights. But if you’re willing to pay a small fee—often under $30—there are now several ways to make sure you’re never left stranded in a sad airport hotel or clamoring over a rebooking counter.
The latest is Freebird, which offers trip protection for as little as $19 on a one-way flight (round trips start at $34). Sign up ahead of your flight, input your travel details, and the rest happens automatically. Should your flight get cancelled or delayed for more than four hours, you’ll get prompted to rebook with a few simple taps. No need to talk to a customer service agent, input incident details—nothing. Regardless of the cost or airline, your replacement flight is fully taken care of by Freebird.
The service is brand-new (as in, it launched today), so the current prices are being described as an introductory offer. Even still, Freebird’s Founder and CEO, Ethan Bernstein, says that he doesn’t expect prices to go much higher. In general, he says, one-way tickets will be insured for $30 or less, with an anticipated average of $20 per leg. Prices will fluctuate according to the probability of weather disruptions and delays on any particular route. (In other words, their price quote might be a good gauge for whether you’ll need the safety net.)
So how does Freebird differ from its nascent competitors? Berkshire Hathaway’s AirCare offers a similar style of flight insurance, starting at $34 for round trips and covering everything from delays to lost luggage. AirHelp, on the other hand, allows you to file a claim if you feel you deserve compensation for a delay or cancellation, and then takes up your case with the airlines for reimbursement of up to $800. The main difference: both services offer reimbursement after the fact, while Freebird doesn’t require its users to pay out-of-pocket for their rebookings—no small fact when last-minute replacement flights can cost anywhere upwards of $1,000.