The 2017 Marine Corps Marathon lottery has been open now for almost a week and will close at noon tomorrow. It is quite certain that many of you that have registered in the lottery are wondering when to book your airline tickets and how to get the best prices. Believe it or not, it may be best to book your tickets – right now! I will break down how and why below.
Best Airline Options for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon Right Now
If you happen on this post after the lottery results have been announced, some of these options may change a bit. But, if you want to take advantage of whatever low prices you find now, here is how to do that – without risk – before the lottery results are announced!
Southwest Airlines – Book Today!
The first great option is to book your 2017 Marine Corps Marathon trip with Southwest Airlines. They fly into Reagan National (DCA) and they have their hub in Baltimore International (BWI). Of course, National would be the most convenient option but Baltimore might be the best if you are looking for good, direct options.
Why Is Southwest Such A Great Option?
Link: Southwest Fare Sale
First of all, they have no cancellation fees! If you book with any of the other airlines, you will be paying a cancellation fee if you cancel your flight after 24 hours from booking. Those fees can be very pricey and you do not actually get your money back but a voucher. That is the same thing with Southwest (you get a credit for the amount of your flight and it must be used 1 year from the time of the booking anywhere you want to go) but you pay no fee for cancelling.
It is even better if you use points! If you cancel your flight, you will get a full refund of your points to use for a different trip. Also, if you book now, you know you at least have a flight to the marathon if you are selected. If you aren’t simply cancel it. For this route, I would use points over cash so you do not have to have it in a Southwest credit.
But, if you are selected, then the real deal fun begins! That is because Southwest runs fare sales every couple/few weeks with a big one a couple of times a year (normally in the next month or so). If you book now, you can always check later to see if the cost of your flight has changed. If it has, you can cancel and rebook – at no charge – and save some money or points!
To check out the current sale how to cancel and rebook, check out this post.
Book With Fare Security – Can Book Today
Some airlines (like United) give you the option of booking your ticket without actually paying for it. You pay a small fee and you can hold it for up to 7 days. This is a nice way to go if you find a great price on a certain airline right now. With Washington Dulles (IAD) being a hub for United, that might be a good option for some of you, depending on where you are coming from. The fee will cost a few bucks but it will at least let you lock in a cheap fare now without worrying if you don’t get picked for the lottery. Plus, if it is a great fare and you do get picked, the small fee won’t mean that much on a great price.
Look for this at checkout to see if it is offered for your flight.
24 Hour Cancellation – Book After Noon Tomorrow (3/29)
If your flight has a destination or origination in the US, the airline must offer you a 24 hour cancellation period. This works great for situations like this! Notification e-mails will be sent out Thursday, March 30. That means you can go ahead and book your favorite flight ticket sometime around tomorrow evening (Wednesday, the 29th). If you are selected for the lottery, great! If not, you can always cancel within 24 hours from the time of booking. If you ticket with Delta, you actually get until midnight the day following your booking. The same goes for Orbitz – you have until 11PM EST the day after your book.
If you go this route, just make sure you are booking a ticket at a price you are happy with and make the booking as late on Wednesday evening as possible to give you plenty of time to hear of your acceptance/denial in the lottery!
Booking with Avios – Anytime
All airlines (except Southwest) have change fees/redeposit fees on mileage tickets. But, it is normally cheaper than trying to deal with a ticket change/cancellation of a cash ticket down the road! If you are near enough to do a non-stop on American Airlines from your airport to National (DCA), use British Airways Avios anytime! The cost of cancelling one of those tickets is just the fees ($5.60 on a single flight) and you will only spend 7,500 Avios for non-stop flights to DCA on American Airlines.
It can be an exciting thing to wait to hear about the lottery results! But, the cost of the airfare can change from certain markets as people start buying tickets when they find out. To beat this cost increase, use the steps in this post to maximize your options and savings. But, except for the Southwest option, make sure that the flight you are booking is at a price you are comfortable with keeping since changes down the road will be pricey!
I will have another post in a month or so about using miles and points to fly to Washington DC for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. That is really the best, cheapest way to go! 🙂
Have questions about flying to the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon? Leave them in the comments below!