Tips to Avoid Paying Airline Change Fees

My girlfriend and I recently booked a trip to London, I’m currently in points stashing mode for an “Around the World” trip, so I opted to pay for this one. Anytime we book a vacation, we try and make sure everyday will count. That’s why I was so disappointed in myself for booking to fly on a Saturday instead of a Friday – I was giving up a day that I could have been in some European country. I investigated into Air Canada Rouge change fees for international flights booked on a basic Tango fare and it would have cost $300 each plus the fare difference (about $150 each) – so a total of $900 to change my flight one day earlier (more than it cost for the original tickets).

After some digging, I found a loop in my itinerary to not only waive the $300 per person change fee, but also get onto a different more expensive flight for no additional cost! The difference? My connecting flight was going to leave 12 minutes later than when I booked the ticket originally. Something as minor as a 12 minute change in departure managed to get me a free change in flights!

Inspired by this free change, here’s a list of some ways to waive or lower change fees!

Check for Itinerary Changes

This is the method I described above! If there is a change in times of your flights, your routing, or even the type of aircraft you are scheduled to fly on you may be eligible to ask for a free change. In my case, my flight changed by 12 minutes so I asked Air Canada to offer me an official “Change of Itinerary” e-mail – once I received the e-mail I kindly asked to be put on a new flight due to the change. It is normally best to request this within 24 hours of the change – this whole process took less than 30 minutes and I completed it via Twitter (not even a phone call).

Air Canada being helpful

Air Canada being helpful

It won’t always be the case, but be nit picking and checking your itinerary every couple of days if you think something may change.

Change Within 24 Hours of Booking

Most airlines will allow you to either cancel for a full refund, or waive change fees within 24 hours of booking your flight. This is helpful for example if you see a fantastic fare on StealthTrips! You can book right away, and then decide within 24 hours if you actually can or want to go on the trip you booked.

Go Standby

If you don’t get a slight itinerary change to take advantage of, you always have the option of heading to the airport early and asking that an agent put you on Standby for an earlier flight. This is subject to seat availability, but, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to snag a seat if the flight isn’t already sold out or oversold.

Book another Flight

If all else fails and you need to change a ticket but can’t make it work another way, weigh the cost of booking another flight. For example, if I didn’t get a free change it would have been cheaper for me to book a new flight than it would have been to actually go through with paying the change fee.

Finally, just be nice

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work often. But sometimes if you call a customer service agent and are really nice and genuine they’ll be willing to help you out! Don’t put all your eggs in this basket – but it is always worth a try.