7 Ways to Avoid Paying a Change Fee

It’s true that the world of travel is shrouded with uncertainty. No matter how well you plan and prepare, sometimes things change and it can be very frustrating dealing with change fees. On domestic carriers like Delta and American airlines, passengers can pay changes fees at around $200 per ticket and for international flights, it can reach up to $450.

Without knowing the fare rules, you can be at the mercy of the airlines and I would suggest you speak to your travel agent to find out your options. Here are some tips when trying to avoid those fees and saving some serious money.

  1. Free Cancellations – Depending on where you purchase your tickets, you may be able to cancel your ticket out right with no reason at all. Most tickets come with a free cancellation policy in which you cancel with a penalty with 4-24 hours from the time you purchased the ticket. If you are working with a travel agent, they can often times waive cancellation fees to accommodate your requests and rebook your ticket.
  2. Buy travel insurance – A wide range of insurance is now available to purchase which you can even cancel for any reason at all (75% trip cancellation), however insurance can now cover change fees to give more value to their plans. Travel Insured and Roamright both have great plans that offer reimbursement for covered reasons when you make changes to your flight.
  3. Making Changes the Day of – If you want to fly out early or later that day ad you are on a domestic itinerary, you can go to the airport and request to see if there is space available. U.S. carriers usually charge around $50-$75 per person to make those type of moves. Be weary, because it all depends on availability. TIP: About 15% of travelers cancel or change their flights which can leave open spaces on flights. To maximize space and minimize waste, airlines will commonly overbook flights. If your flight is overbooked, you can volunteer and receive compensation including the full value of your ticket and rebook for a later date.
  4. One way tickets – Looking for promotional fares can be a great way to save as long as you are flexible. Travelers can avoid paying change fees by purchasing one way fares and booking their flight as needed. Remember when purchasing one way tickets, you run the risk of paying two change fees. If the cost of the ticket is less than the penalty doubled in price, you always purchase a round trip ticket. It will save you money in the end.
  5. Buy refundable tickets – If you know for a fact that you will need the flexibility when you travel, you can opt to purchase a refundable ticket which allows you free changes. Keep in mind that these fares are usually double the price of nonrefundable tickets and are primarily bought by corporate travelers.
  6. Check for Changes to your Flight – Even the airlines can make changes to the flight details which can help you avoid change fees. Wait until the end and watch out for any delays, cancellations, extra layover, or even weather related issues can cause the airlines to waive their fees. You never know what issue they may have and with a little help, you can save your money for another day. If all fails, you might have to make a scene, but it never hurts to try.
  7. Go Southwest or Alaska Airlines – Southwest is the only domestic airline that does not charge cancellation or change fees. Alaska Airline also has a lenient policy allowing you to avoid fees if your flight is changed canceled within 60 days of your flight.
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