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                                                              Changing Nonrefundable Tickets 

                                                         This is the most complicated issue.

                                                         It’s so complicated, the following is an attempt  to distill the rules down to just a few basics.

                                                         (The airline rules for just a one way flight can be 20 or more pages in length.)

                                                        This brief explanation should in no way be considered as a complete "rule book" for all fares.  


                                                        All carriers (except for a very few, such as Southwest) have penalties for any change.

                                                        The usual domestic fee is $100. (although this is going up) This is in addition to the fare difference.

                                                        Let’s say your ticket to NYC was purchased for $250. And it’s two days before your original

                                                        date of departure and your client needs you to be there in three days.

                                                        You don’t have the 21 days advance purchase required for a “cheap” fare. But you have a Saturday night

                                                        stay in your schedule and your class of service is available ….… oops ... nope, that won’t help.


                                                        With no advance purchase here’s what happens.


                                                        Original ticket                                    $250

                                                        Airline Imposed Change Penalty   -$150


                                                        Remaining value                               $100

                                                        New ticket                                          $2000


                                                        Difference in price                            $1900!!


                                                        Should your new ticket be less expensive than the original, here’s a common scenario:

                                                        Original ticket                                     $550

                                                        New ticket                                          -$350


                                                        Difference in price                             $200

                                                        Airline Imposed Change Penalty     $150


                                                        Total difference in price                    $50

                                                        New amount to be paid                    $150



                                                        Confused?..... should be a $50 credit?  ($550-$350=$200, and then the $200 credit - the $150 penalty = $50 credit? ... nope!!)

                                                        If the new ticket is less, you must pay the penalty upfront … it can’t come from the old ticket.

                                                        The old ticket value is in excess of the new ticket, it's in many cases forfeited unless you specifically

                                                        ask for it to be credited to you as an "ETC" (electronic travel certificate).

                                                        for future travel. Don't expect the airline agent to voluntarily issue the ETC, to be certain, ask for it.

                                                        If you don't and an ETC isn't issued, your actual cash penalty difference is $350, so your cost for a $350 ticket is actually $700!


                                                        You must know to request a "ETC", as they are rarely automatically given.

                                                        Should the airline Gods smile upon you and provide you with a “ETC” you are truly blessed,

                                                        for it providith thee with bucks for a future flight. Once again, see “lottery odds”. 


                                                       When a nonrefundable ticket can not be used on the flights originally reserved, the new ticket must be booked

                                                       and paid for before the original date of travel.  If you are changing just the return flight and you have flown on the

                                                       first half of the ticket, you must change the ticket to the new desired date/time and pay the fare difference and penalty.

                                                       The grace period of one year for use of an unused ticket has been eliminated. Should the above rules not be observed,

                                                       the entire ticket is forfeit. This can’t be emphasized enough. The airlines are absolutely intractable when it comes to this rule.


                                                       Recently some carriers (such as British Air) have discounted tickets that can't be changed under any circumstances.

                                                       Any change will result in you having to purchase a completely new ticket!





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