By Stephanie Betzler, GalTime.com
A Traveler's TrapIt's happened to nearly every experienced traveler. You're planning a trip home to visit mom and dad for the holidays and after much deliberation (is this a good deal? Do I want the 9 AM or 1 PM flight? Are the snacks better on American or Continental?), you book your flight.
The next day, you check the airline's website, just out of curiosity, and as your luck would have it, you didn't get such a good deal after all. Whether the price of your flight drops or a spot miraculously opens up on another, less expensive flight, it can be a tricky situation.
So many tickets are very obviously marked "nonrefundable" or "unchangeable," that customers often merely let the situation go, not even inquiring about refunds or adjustments. That may be a costly mistake!
While not always the case, there are frequently steps travelers can take to save themselves a little bit of cash. With the help of Anne Banas at SmarterTravel.com, we've assembled a short list of tips to help out those in such pricey predicaments.
Move quickly: The minute you notice a price drop, pick up the phone. The shorter the amount of time between when you booked that ticket and your attempt to get an adjustment, the better. Many airlines, says Anne, have a 24-hour window from the time a ticket is purchased during which customers can make changes to their reservation free of charge. Though this policy is not across the board, when a price drop or a less expensive flight is spotted within the specified time frame, for those carriers that do have this policy, adjustments would be allowed. Anne also points out that this change-policy can also help anyone who has, for example, booked a flight to "Portland, ME instead of Portland, OR."
Related: 5 Worst Online Booking Mistakes
If you miss the 24-hour window, however, not all hope is lost. Most airlines, Anne says, allow customers to change a reservation with a penalty fee (usually about $100). If this is the case, travelers just have to do the math to make sure that changing their reservation will save them more than the fee.
Also, many online travel agencies offer at least partial price guarantees and some of those extend beyond the 24-hour period. When adjusting tickets with these sites, Anne points out, the price difference generally must be for the exact same flight, not different carriers or alternate times with the same carrier.
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