Should I Buy the Expedia Flight Protection Plan?

Expedia United

When booking a trip on (or its subsidiaries Orbitz and Travelocity), you will be pushed to purchase a “flight protection plan” during checkout.

The website now makes a concerted effort to blatantly scare you into spending $19 on travel protection. Here’s why you shouldn’t do it.

Expedia Travel Insurance will Only Refund You in Extraordinary Circumstances

You will only get a refund for your online booking under very specific — and very unlikely — circumstances, including:

  • death in the family
  • extreme illness
  • natural disaster that severely damages your home

A few other scenarios are listed in the dreaded terms and conditions, which admittedly I did not read before making my mistake of buying “trip protection.”

Expedia logo

Do Not Let Expedia’s Booking Language Intimidate You

At the core of this issue is a lack of respect for the user, the traveler. goes to great lengths to fool you into buying a $19 flight protection plan. They do this through not-so-subtle language and design:

Expedia protect your flight recommended

  1. Upon entering checkout, Expedia tells you that protecting your flight is “recommended.” Recommended for whom? And by whom? It doesn’t say.
  2. Then, in foreboding red letters, Expedia warns, “Avoid change fees. Protect your trip.” Protect my trip from what? It doesn’t say.
  3. There’s a deceptive link that reads, “3 reasons you might need travel protection.” Might is a curious word. More on this later.
  4. The website also puts words in the customer’s mouth if you say “no” to trip insurance: “I’m willing to risk my trip.” Sheesh.

If you do click “No” and try to opt out of the travel protection plan, displays a warning message: “Your trip is not protected.” And it prompts you to “reconsider.”

Expedia your trip is not protected warning

All of this is manipulation and intimidation. Expedia is not telling the whole story.

Before You Buy Expedia Insurance, Read the Terms and Conditions

At this point, you might be thinking that you want to be a more educated consumer about Expedia’s flight protection plan option. You might click on the blue link: “3 reasons you might need travel protection.”

Expedia 3 reasons you might need travel protection

These aren’t reasons you “might” need travel insurance. They’re basically the only three reasons you would need it, because if none of these three scenarios happen, you can kiss your refund goodbye.

And now we come to the terms and conditions — that tiny little blue link — “View terms, conditions, and plan sponsors” — which, of course, doesn’t even appear to the user, unless you actually click on “3 reasons you might need travel protection.”

The terms and conditions (3,500 words in all), to be fair, do explain the scenarios in which the travel protection plan will actually protect you. So yes, I should have read the fine print. But did I want to spend even more time researching T&Cs after having spent over an hour researching flights, hotels, and more? Not really.

To add further confusion if you do want to perform exhaustive research on travel insurance, Expedia offers at least four protection plans with nearly the same name:

  • Expedia Package Protection Plan
  • Expedia Vacation Waiver
  • Expedia Cancellation Plan
  • Expedia Total Protection Plan

Happy T&Cs reading!

Why I Opted for Expedia Flight Protection — and Regretted It

I was slated to go to a business conference for one client, and I had another client who was possibly going to be in that same city that same week. Thinking that I might need to adjust my flights pending my client’s plans, I bought Expedia’s $19 flight “protection” plan.

A couple weeks after I booked the flights, the work conference was rescheduled, so I needed to cancel my flights altogether. Time for my “flight protection insurance” to kick in, right?

Nope. This is where I learned that I would receive no refund, and almost no credits. My trip protection only would have protected me if I had had a death or illness in the family, or the aforementioned, very unlikely reasons.

I called Expedia to complain, but to no avail. Policy is policy, they said. I told them their website was deliberately misleading.

In the end, my $256 plane ticket turned into:

  • $200 down the drain due to a “reissue fee” from United Airlines (another gripe altogether)
  • $56 in credits to use toward a future reservation

To further annoy me, I will have to call Expedia to use my $56 United credit — I can’t simply apply it online. Another poor user experience.

Is Expedia’s Flight Protection Plan Worth it?

In the vast majority of circumstances, buying Expedia travel insurance is not worth it. If you do the math, the only way it’s worth it is if once every 10 trips, one of following events happens:

  • You get extremely sick.
  • You have a death in the family.
  • An act of god destroys your house.

Here’s the math. If you:

  • purchased trip protection ($19) on each of your next 10 trips, you’d spend $190. Guaranteed.
  • needed to change or cancel a flight (highly unlikely) from United, American, or Delta, you’d pay $200.

Need more advice? Here’s how you can try to avoid change fees or reissue fees moving forward:

24 thoughts on “Should I Buy the Expedia Flight Protection Plan?”

  1. I booked a ticket thru Expedia last night and was accidentally charged for this Cancellation plan. I selected “No, I’m willing to risk my $226” before I made a payment. However, I was still charged for the Cancellation plan of $38.

    How can I cancel this plan and get the refund on this $38?

    1. This is very similar to my situation, I booked a ticket through their web site and I was sure I didn’t select to buy this cancellation plan and confirmed the payment and was surprised that they charged me another 35$ for the protection plan although I didn’t select it. Are they doing this on purpose ?? if I cancel my trip I guess they will not give me the 35$ protection money, how to refund them ??

    2. I just cancelled my protection plan with them. As per the expedia rep you have within 10 days from original purchase to cancel and within 5 days to purchase if you change your mind. Hope this helps.

  2. Hi my name is Jill Watson We had a act of God Irma, At this time I can’t leave my home. Due to repairs and clean up. I purchased your insurance. I can’t afford to go home to see my 91 year old mother. I’ve tried spent 2 hours on the phone. Even got Chase credit card company on my be half to get my money back. Help you heartless. If I leave on the 17 of October I will also loose my job. Please review my request to cancel my ticket of 265$ in full and not keep 200$ I will go home in June could have a voucher?

  3. Dam..I started researching it only after I tried to rescheduled my international flight from Expedia. They said rescheduling a flight would cost me about the same price I paid for my original flight ticket though I have a protection plan. They said they don’t handle anything about protection plan, they said protection plan doesn’t mean free of cancellation.I don’t know why the hell they advertise about it in Expedia if they can’t handle it…So sick of it. I stayed on phone with Expedia more than an hour and my issue didn’t get resolve.

    1. Hi James – thank you for reading and commenting. So sorry you are going through this. What a pain. You’re totally right — it’s very disappointing how Expedia doesn’t own up to doing anything in these situations.

  4. Same thing happen to me. Once I wanted to reshedule my flight and did not have the protection plan. They told me unfortunately I didn’t sign up for the protection plan so we can’t reshedule ur flight. A month later I booked a flight and this time I got the insurance. I Wanted to reshedule my return date a day later to spend an extra day with a sick family member in the hospital. When talking to costumer service, i was put on hold while they checked their “policy” and I was not able to change my flight date unless I paid Alaska Airlines cancellation/change fee of $125. The point of getting insurance is so that expendia would cover it! And they don’t! MisLeading BS.

    We got the cancellation plan and then our original flight got cancelled. We should get a refund but NOOOOOO …. the cancellation plan doesn’t cover that. TOTAL BS!!!!!! Never again!!!! I lost over $400 for nothing but I haven’t given up trying to get some money back. My next call is to my credit card company to see what they can do for me. DO NOT USE EXPEDIA!!!!!!!

  6. And the Expedia Travel insurance for cars is a joke too. I didn’t use it because I was covered under a credit card. And when I called them to cancel it they told me the car rental told them I had used it and I was sitting right there with the car rental and they were the ones that said I should cancel it!! Did not get a refund but cancelled all future trip car insurance

  7. Expedia SUCKS!!! Don’t buy the Travel Protection Package. They make it look like you can get all of your money back nice and easy just by paying for the Travel Protection Package but it will be a NIGHTMARE!!! Once they have your money they hold on for dear life and try as hard as they can to never give it back to you. They can give you the money back for the Hotel but so what most Hotels are are easy to work with and let you make last minute changes or cancellations. What’s the point of using Expedia then? What are they good for? Last year I used them and the prices went down later after I booked. Looks like it worked out for them. In the mean time your trip sits on your credit card accumulating interest when it is still weeks or months away. From now on I book my flights with the Airline itself, same for the Hotel and use my Hertz Gold for my car rental which gives me a much nicer rental car than Epedias pop-up car rental add on for the same price. No more Expedia, no more fine print, I’m done!!! BTW Expedia Terms & Conditions, 23 pages long. Your’e screwed.

  8. I will not use expedia anymore either. “Travel insurance” is a scam and their phone operators are just like automatons with scripted answers.

  9. Thank you for this article. I helped me decide whether or not to take the protection plan. Yes, I am convinced not to.

  10. The Total Trip Protection Plan as it is written AND associated with the intimidating and misleading language at the time of ticket purchase should be sent to the consumer fraud department of the federal government, as well as the insurance commissioner of every state in the union.

  11. I had bypass surgery and a heart condition am 70 year old disabled vet and when I attempted to collect on insurance for heath reasons they refused me any consideration! This is a scam to steal your money and the attorney general should take a look at this as insurance fraud!

  12. Looks like you don’t have an option to opt out of Flight Protection Plan any more. I am booking international flights for 5 and it costs $505. I will not let me book w/o flight protection.

  13. Expedia still hasn’t done anything to up the quality of the travel protection plans. We purchased $1200 worth of airline tickets for a cruise in mid-April. The week before the trip, my husband got deathly ill and was hospitalized for a week (including 5 days in the ICU). I filled out the myriad of paperwork (including tracking down the doctor in the hospital so she could fill out the medical certificate form they required) and was told by their travel insurance company (AIG Travel Guard) that my husband’s illness and hospital stay did not meet the requirements for a refund. We got $0 back from Expedia/AIG Travel Guard. Whereas, Royal Caribbean’s Travel Insurance refunded every single cent of our money. I will never again use Expedia and definitely never again use AIG Travel Guard insurance.

  14. Thanks Drew for this great information! I just booked an International trip and was trying to figure out what the insurance covered but it was pages of legalese and so confusing. This was right on point and exactly what I needed to know!

    A huge and warm thank you!

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