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Before You Change Your Flight

No matter how well you plan your trip, there is always the chance that an unexpected event will force you to change your plans. If you find yourself needing to change your flight, here are some notes to keep in mind:

  • Before you buy: Be aware of the type of fare you’re buying. Nonrefundable tickets often cost less up front, but if you need to cancel or change the flight, you won’t get money back (some airlines may give you credit toward a future flight). If you know ahead of time that your plans might change, look for “flexible” or “refundable” fares that allow you easily switch or cancel your flight – though a fee may still apply.
  • How to change: Once you’re certain you need to reschedule, either call the airline or follow the directions on your reservation confirmation.
  • Fees: Change fees vary widely depending on the airline, from free for refundable tickets on Southwest to as much as $150 on other airlines. Check the airline’s policies online to be certain. No matter what airline you’re on, you’ll have to pay any difference in the airfare. Fees also vary depending on when you change (same day versus ahead of time) and where (online or by phone is usually less than at the gate).
  • Tips for same-day changes: Several airlines, including Delta and American, offer a confirmed seat on a same-day flight for as low as $50, even with a nonrefundable ticket. You must confirm the change within a specific amount of time before the flight. Fly standby for no extra fee on some airlines, though this option does not guarantee a seat.

Bottom line: Visit the airline’s website to read its policies before you buy the ticket. If you think your plans might change, go with a ticket that offers the most flexible options for changing flights. Or, hold off on booking until you’re sure – check our Air deals for the best offers.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Chicago
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
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Kelsey Rexroat