>Q: If an airfare goes down in price after I buy it but before I fly it, will the airline give me a refund for the price difference?
A: No airline will actually give you money back, but currently three will give you a credit toward a future flight, without penalty and in full, when a fare drops, as long as you don't change flights or travel dates. In other words, the new lower fare has to be available on the flights you originally booked. Those airlines are Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest. Most, but not all, other airlines will refund a price drop difference, but they'll deduct a service fee of up to $150 on a domestic fare, and $250 or more on an international one. Some foreign-based airlines will not issue a refund at all. You buy it, you fly it.
>Q: Is it ever worthwhile to buy frequent flier miles directly from the airlines?
A: It really depends on what you'll "spend" the miles on and whether the airline is offering a bonus mileage deal when you buy the miles. From time to time, airlines will offer to give you an extra mile or half a mile for each mile you buy. Recently, US Airways, which normally sells a mile for $0.0275 cents in its Dividend Miles frequent flier program, had a double mile bonus offer, and Delta was offering a 50 percent bonus in conjunction with American Express. If you spend these bonus miles for an expensive international fare or a business class or first class fare, then buying miles might actually be a bargain. But if there is no bonus offer, and you're planning to spend the miles on a relatively inexpensive economy class fare (such as a $200 fare), then it's not worth buying miles. So watch your frequent flyer program's website for a bonus deal and buy the miles when you're planning to spend them on a high-value fare.