How to Avoid Soaring Flight Costs

moneycoinsPenny-pinching travelers beware:  those airlines that have been nickel-and-diming you to death are not changing their tune any time soon.  In fact, two commercial carriers recently announced amendments to their current policies that may put a real dent in your wallet.

Discount airline Southwest will no longer accommodate passengers who fail to show up on their given departure date.  The carrier is launching a new “no show” policy that forces travelers to forfeit their fares if they fail to show up for a flight.  Southwest officials say they instituted the change so that planes are not taking off with empty seats.

The new rule goes into effect next month; however, if you already booked the cheapest Wanna Get Away or DING fares you still have the ability to cancel or re-book flights.  You will only lose money if you don’t show up to the airport for the flight.  In addition, if you don’t appear for one portion of your flight and don’t cancel or rebook, the rest of your itinerary will be deleted by Southwest.

“It’s not a fee,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO told news reporters.  “All we need our customers to do is simply cancel their reservation, which puts us in the position of finding a replacement customer for that seat.’”

Southwest is the only major U.S. carrier that doesn’t charge customers for changing their flight plans.  Meanwhile, United Airlines just announced it is increasing its fee for travelers needing to change non-refundable tickets.  Last week, the nation’s biggest airline upped its charge for making changes to domestic itineraries to $200, a $50 increase.  In addition, if you are making modifications to flights to or from certain destinations in South America you will have to fork over $300, up from $250.

No word on whether or not other carriers plan to follow in United’s footsteps.  Currently, American, Delta and US Airways each charge $150 for passengers wanting to make changes to nonrefundable tickets.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.