Penalties When Plans Change Last Minute

Sep 14th, 2009, 12:03 PM
  #1  
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Penalties When Plans Change Last Minute

Hi, I'm curious about this situation. Suppose I book a cheap ticket, and then my plans change. I suddenly need to leave on a different day.

To be concrete (not a real example) let's say I booked a ticket a month ago, and I was supposed to leave next week. But then now I need to leave two days from now.

I'll have to pay a change fee + fare difference. What does the fare difference typically look like in an example like this?

In other words, my question is whether the fare difference will depend on whether I've satisfied some advance purchase requirement upon rebooking. Does someone know?

Thanks!
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Sep 14th, 2009, 01:02 PM
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Depends. There are advance purchase fares out to a few days in advance.

Here's an example. If I buy my ATL to LAX 21 days in advance it's been running $300. A week later I am generally looking at $500 and that seems to run until just a few days prior when it jumps to anywhere between $800 and over $1,000. (Depending on how fulll the flight is)

So you will have pay the change fee, plus the difference. In my case it could easily be the chage fee plus the $500 difference between my purchased $300 and the current $800.
CarolA is offline  
Sep 14th, 2009, 01:20 PM
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Thanks. So effectively you're saying that buying a ticket way in advance is probably not a very good insurance policy against a change of plans, as if they change at the very last minute, it's basically the same as if you're buying a ticket at that moment.

Do others have experiences they care to share?

I do come across this issue from time to time. Now I think that I may have to buy a ticket on very short notice. But I was wondering what would have happened had I just bought it way before and just changed my departure date.
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Sep 14th, 2009, 03:24 PM
  #4  
J62
 
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I do this from time to time for work, and what you are saying is correct. I basically had to pay the prevailing rate - whatever fare was available at the time, + rebooking fee in order to use the existing ticket.
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Sep 14th, 2009, 05:58 PM
  #5  
 
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The best insurance policy when you're buying a nonrefundable ticket far in advance is an insurance policy, which costs about $30. It's always more expensive to pay a change fee these days.
doug_stallings is offline  
Sep 14th, 2009, 06:02 PM
  #6  
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But what does the insurance policy cover? I thought that it mainly covers medical emergencies and other contingencies that are quite unlikely to arise, but I could be wrong.
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Sep 14th, 2009, 08:36 PM
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Changing your departure date is just like buying a whole new ticket, and going with whatever price you can find. The only difference is that you have the value of the old ticket to apply toward the new one ... minus the change fee.

This assumes the terms of the original ticket let you make changes. A few of the rock-bottom fares do not.

Or if you got a super cheap deal on your original ticket, its value might be less than the change fee, in which case, you have no old value to apply toward a new ticket. You just end up throwing it away and starting fresh.

One more thing: You generally have a year to use the value of the old ticket.
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Sep 14th, 2009, 10:45 PM
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Buy two one-ways, if when added together, they cost the same as the round-trip.

Suppose CarolA buys two tickets 21-days in advance: ATL-LAX for $150 and LAX-ATL for $150. Later, she decides to leave few days earlier and buys a third ticket ATL-LAX at the closer-in one-way rate of $250. Total cost of the trip, with the change, would be $550.

Suppose CarolA buys one roundtrip ticket for $300. Later she decides to leave a few days earlier and the roundtrip now costs $500. The total cost of the trip would be $300 for the original ticket plus $150 change fee plus the $200 fare difference. Total cost is $650 (essentially the close-in rate of $500 plus the change fee).

I just checked ATL-->>LAX for Sept 17 and it actually is $254 on United, or $50 less if you take AA to BUR.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 03:52 AM
  #9  
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I can see how you can come out ahead with the one-way method, but I guess it probably works only for some itineraries.

But it does seem like if 2 x one-way = r/t, it's always better to book the 2 x one-way. Pretty useful trick, thanks.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 05:02 AM
  #10  
 
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I'm not talking about a typical travel insurance policy. Some of the airlines (Delta, for example) are now offering single policies for about $30 that cover you have to change or cancel your flight. It's cheaper than the change-fee. Ordinarily, I wouldn't bother, but some people want that protection and are willing to pay for it.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 05:23 AM
  #11  
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What does the insurance policy cover? Thanks.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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I haven't read the terms/conditions for the insurance policies offered by Delta, etc., but I have read United's, and it only works for "covered reasons" (see text below). I'd suggest looking on the airline website(s) at the terms and conditions.

From United:

Can I cancel my trip for any reason and get all my money back?

No. Trip Cancellation coverage will only refund prepaid, non-refundable payments if you have to cancel for an unexpected covered reason. Covered reasons include sudden medical emergencies, death of a family member or traveling companion, certain terrorist acts, bad weather that completely shuts down your common carrier, or being called for jury duty. Please see the Certificate of Insurance/Policy for complete details. Simply changing your mind is not a covered reason.
ms_go is offline  
Sep 15th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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Thanks for the info on the carriers ins. Does anyone know what UA charges?
yestravel is offline  
Sep 15th, 2009, 06:41 AM
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yestravel, it varies according to the cost of the trip. I always see the offer pop up during the purchase process (along with that annoying "mileage accelerator"--I wonder how many people buy that, anyway?). I just priced a trip to the west coast for later in the year, and the travel insurance quote was $13.50 on a $250 ticket.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 06:58 AM
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What's the "mileage accelerator"?
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Sep 15th, 2009, 07:11 AM
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Hi, thanks. Yes, I now I know exactly what u are talking about. I always ingonore it and the mileage accelrator, what a rip off!
111op, the mileage accelerator allows u for a hefty price the ability to increase the number of miles u would recieve on a trip. I guess it might be worth it if you were near status and just needed a few hundred miles. I never looked at it for that.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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It's a United "travel option" that allows you to increase the redeemable miles (but not elite qualifying miles) from the trip by some multiple--double or triple. I've always considered it expensive...for one trip to Asia last year, I recall the offer was in the thousands; if I was going to pay that, I'd rather upgrade my ticket. I called it annoying because I always have to navigate through it and reject it, both at purchase and online check-in.

Sorry--off topic for your original question; I just raised it to point out to yestravel where to look for the insurance option.
ms_go is offline  
Sep 15th, 2009, 07:28 AM
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That's no problem. It's always interesting to read about the various tricks that people use to attempt to squeeze $ out of others, and I haven't flown UA in years so I didn't know about this.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 07:42 AM
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ms_go -- do u think the accelerator could ever be worth it if you needed say a few hundred miles to get the # of miles u needed for an upcoming trip u wanted to use FF? Just curious, I've never done the math, just seen the ridiculous amount of $$ they want and now ignore it altogether.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 10:28 PM
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The accelerator is a rip-off and I am offended (a little less these days) when it appears, as if they actually thought I was going to go for it.

I am less offended these days because of a change in the webpage. Before the last time I saw it a few days ago, the offer would appear with two choices: accept the offer or skip it.

Thing was that the "accept the offer" link was a big obvious button. The much less obvious "skip the offer" was just a text link next to that button. It would be easy for a person in a hurry to not even see the skip link. The other day, though, the skip link was in a button and appeared as an equal to the accept button.

You can, of course, just purchase miles if you need them to get up to an award level (as ms-go mentioned the accelerator / purchased miles don't apply to status, only to awards). But it is expensive.

Unfortunately, I don't remember what the accelerator price was for the miles. I consider anything over 2 or 3 cents per mile to be expensive.

Purchasing 1000 miles (the minimum amount) costs a whopping $67.25 - 6.725 cents per mile. 10,000 miles for $375. I guess if that $67.25 cents was what it would take to get that roundtrip to Hawaii that I've always wanted, and I knew the seats are available on my dates, then I might bite the bullet and go for it.

Transferring miles makes some sense. It is 1.5 cents per mile plus a $35 fee. To transfer 10,000 miles thus costs $185, less than two cents per.
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