Friday, June 21, 2013

Fright of Flight!

Fright of Flight!
With that title, I'm sure you are expecting me to be talking about the flying experience - but I'm not; it's actually about all of the fees being raised and instituted by the major airline carriers.
I am all for businesses making money, because there is a cost to doing business; however, some of these fees are getting ridiculous. In late April of this year, several airlines increased their change fees to $200-250 (this is for non-refundable tickets). That's per person, so a family of four would be looking at a minimum of $800-$1000 if they had to change their flight. Also, just to be clear, this fee is ONLY for changing your ticket, that is not taking into consideration if there was a change in your flight costs. 

Sarah is taking her daughter to New York to celebrate her 16th birthday. She's worked with her travel professional and provided all of the date information and booked and paid for the vacation six months in advance. Later, Sarah finds out a month prior to her trip that she needs to change their flights because she has a work obligation that she can not get out of, so they need to depart a day later.

The initial price of her round-trip tickets per person were $350 dollars; however, the price of that flight has shot up to $500 dollars. Not only does Sarah need to pay the difference in the price increase of $150 per person (which will be $300), but she will also be paying a change fee as well. If her flight was booked with one of the carriers that charges $200 per person, then she will be paying $400 to change her and her daughter's tickets. The total price she will be paying additionally out-of-pocket will be $700. I don't know about you, but that's a lot of money!
Sadly, it's all about "follow the leader." If one carrier sees that a major carrier has increased their fees; rest assured, many others will be following suit. 

Quick tips to possibly alleviate this issue:
  • Make sure your dates of travel are set, and there are no potential conflicts that may make you have to change  your dates. Yes, things do come up, but the better prepared you are, the better off you will be.
  • Double and even triple check all documents you receive to ensure the dates of travel are correct, because if there is an error and it's not caught prior to purchase (or with some carriers, within twenty-four hours), you could be in for a rude awakening when you are hit with a change fee because you need to make a correction.
  • In some cases, the purchasing of travel insurance can help defray some of the costs of non-refundable payments that have been paid. This is a case-by-case situation, but is definitely worth considering and looking in to when you are planning your travels.
  • Finally, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Ok, ok, I know that's probably not the best tip, but hey, it's true! Many things happen that are out of our control. 
The site,, is good about updating information in respect to most of the major carriers and their fee schedules. I've only scraped the tip of the iceberg on all of the fees that can be potentially assessed, so if you want more information, you can check out their site. Their last update was on May 1, 2013 (as of today).

*Photo used from

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