FLIGHT CANCELLATION CHARGES
Flight Cancelation Charges can be a costly affair. Most all major U.S. carriers charging at least a $75 fee for domestic flight changes. For the three biggies —Delta, American and United — it’s a flat-out $200 penalty. Add that on top of an increase in fare, and you’re going to end up paying a lot more.
Here are four ways you can sidestep/avoid paying a hefty plane ticket change fee, or at least lessen the blow:
FLIGHT CANCELLATION CHARGES CAN BE AVOIDED IF YOU DO IT WITHIN 24 HOURS.
If you immediately regret anything about the itinerary you just booked, cancel your ticket within 24 hours of purchasing and you should get off fee-free. That’s according to a U.S. Department of Transportation regulation and holds for any tickets booked more than a week ahead of the flight. That said, American Airlines is sneaky with this and will allow you to reserve a ticket at a certain fare for 24 hours, but once you pay, you’re locked in.
One caveat: Some experts say a third-party booking is a riskier route to go for this. But some travel sites — Expedia is one — do have a built-in option that allows you to easily cancel within 24 hours.
Flight Cancellation Charges Can be Avoided If You Do It 60 Days Ahead Of Time.
That 24-hour window long gone? Well, if you still have a couple months or more before departure, consider making that flight change now. Some airlines, including JetBlue and Alaska, will go easier on you for making any changes at least 60 days in advance. Alaska will let you change for free and JetBlue will only charge about half the regular change penalty.
FLIGHT CANCELLATION CHARGES CAN BE REDUCED FOR A FLIGHT ON THE SAME DAY IF YOU CAN.
If the only thing you don’t like about your flight is the departure time but you’re okay with the route and date, make a same-day change, which is a swap for a flight with the same origin and destination that leaves earlier or later on the same date. This is almost always a cheaper change to make, such as $75 versus $200 on United.
FLIGHT CANCELLATION CHARGES CAN BE REDUCED BY LOOKING FOR SCHEDULE CHANGES.
Look for any schedule changes. It’s not uncommon for airlines to alter flight details in the months, weeks and days leading up to a flight. They might change the departure time, the aircraft or even switch the carrier (from United to United’s regional Express Jet, for example). Any of these changes could qualify for a full refund — even on what’s technically a non-refundable fare. You’ll have to take it up with the airline and it’ll be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but stand your ground.Be aware, too, that the airline won’t always notify you of such changes, especially if they’re slight. Keep checking up on the flight details yourself and document any changes you catch so that you have proof.
FLIGHT CANCELLATION CHARGES CAN BE WAIVED IF YOU JUST PLEAD YOUR CASE.
Those agents on the other end of the call or other side of the desk at the airport are people just like us too. Even when the rules are spelled out, they still might be able to evaluate your situation individually and make something work. It goes without saying to play nice.