It was 2012 and I had just booked a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Kathmandu for the wrong day. I would fly with AirAsia, who, I assumed, like virtually every other airline I have come across, would allow me to change my flight free of charge if it were within 24 hours.
It is not the case.
Instead, I had almost $ 50 left to change my flight the next day within twenty minutes of booking. That day I learned my lesson and now I am cautious with the people I fly with. Fortunately, with four more years of full-time travel under my belt since then, I still have to pay an exchange fee.
Here’s how you can avoid paying them.
Check the reservation before confirming
It sounds like common sense, but it has happened to me and many of my friends: you are paying attention as you go through the reservation process and you press confirm without verifying that your details are correct. Make sure 100% the date is correct, the time is correct (especially if you are flying around midnight – friends regularly booked a 00.30 flight and showed up at the airport 24 hours after your flight was supposed to leave! !)
Try to change your flight within 24 hours
In the case of my flight to Nepal, they still charged me to change within 24 hours, but this is not the case for most airlines, especially if they are not budget airlines. If you are going to fly domestically, know that in the United States, airlines must allow you to cancel free of charge within 24 hours of booking the flight, so if you are in a panic about the flights you just booked, then it is time to change them!
Buy a flexible ticket
It is possible to purchase a flexible ticket when booking your flight, which for around $ 50 more will allow you to change your flight free of charge if necessary. It is worth doing if you are not 100% sure of your travel dates, but want to set a particular rate, or if you know that plans may change in the future. It’s not an additional expense and it could end up saving you a small fortune if you have to change your plans.
See if you can get an earlier or later flight
It is generally much more expensive to change the date of a flight rather than the time. If you can’t make a flight for some reason, but you could catch one 12 hours later the same day, then take that flight instead of one for the next day.
Get travel insurance
I always recommend traveling with travel insurance, and if you find a good provider with a decent plan, your trip cancellation is likely covered by them. Yet another reason to have travel insurance!
Pull a no show
Yes, it’s not particularly ethical, but if you do some research online, the airline you are flying with may charge you more for changing your flight than for not showing up at all. Try to find alternative flights that are best suited to you, in case there are any that are less than the change fee.
Also: if you do not show up, you are entitled to a refund of the taxes and fees you paid on the flight.