A friend of mine sent me an email about a travel dilemma she has and since it’s so relatable and important, I decided to write about it with expert quotes from two travel agents, a 450,000-mile-a-year road warrior and yours truly. RELATED: The Weird (or Clever?) Way I Save Money Booking Plane Tickets

Here’s Carrie’s email:
“So, I am so upset at British Airlines (BA) right now and need your opinion. I bought a ticket for my son for Spring Break RT from LA- Barcelona and then Madrid to LA. Cost was $1,531.80. Now we are slightly changing the dates and the new airfare is only $650 RT. BA says they won’t give refunds, vouchers, etc. (The way US carriers do). Any thoughts? Maybe you should warn your readers that this is something to look out for and that US carriers are more flexible. Let me know what your experience has been.”

I asked Brett Snyder from CrankyConceirge.com what his advice was and he said:
“Unfortunately, every airline has different rules, and it’s really hard to keep up on them all. This information is usually filed in the fare rules, but those are not written in a way that travelers can easily understand.  Even within the US, the rules will vary by airline and even by fare type.  I wish I had great advice on this, but you can never plan for each possible scenario for each airline in advance if you’re a traveler.”

Travel agent John Dekker who runs Surf City Travel (john@surfcitytravel.com) had similar advice. “Airlines differ on fare rules, and that’s why you should either put your “LAWYER HAT” on and read the very technical rules or contact a professional travel agent.”

Travel journalist Ramsey Qubein, who has visited 170 countries, says: “Many U.S. airlines will offer either a refund or credit in the event of a price drop. Keep in mind this is when booking the same fare on the same flight and date. It can be helpful to check back to see if there has been a drop in the price for the exact type of ticket you purchased. This works for mileage tickets, too!”

My take is that I almost always book tickets on airlines like American, Delta and United because I know if I choose a fare that’s not heavily restricted, like Basic Economy, then I can easily change the tickets without a fee and get a travel credit if there’s a drop in price. I also set up fare alerts before and after booking to keep me in the know. Here’s how to set up a fare alert.

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4 Comments On "My Friend Learned the Hard Way Why It's Best to Book Tickets on U.S. Airlines"
  1. Anonymous|

    I was totally refunded by Aerolineus Argentinas-I had to cancel-not all international carriers are that strict-British Airways is restrictive

  2. Karen|

    I was totally refunded by Aerolineus Argentinas-I had to cancel-not all international carriers are that strict-British Airways is restrictive

  3. Linda Perry|

    Hawaiian airlines will not give you a credit if you book a ticket for less than the value of your current ticket. In fact, if you book a ticket and then change it to a lesser cost ticket and then want to change it back to the original price ticket you will have to pay the difference for the more expensive ticket.

    From Hawaiian airlines website:
    When making date/flight, reroute, or other changes to a Main Cabin, First Class and Business Class ticket, any applicable difference in fare (greater than $0) will be charged. Refund or credit will not be provided for any ticket changes that result in a fare less than the original fare paid. The value of the new ticket must be equal or higher than the value of the original ticket.

  4. Melanie G|

    Good advice for sure! Whenever I book a flight on Air France or Iberia or any euro carrier and I CAN book it through the US partner I do. Just booked my son on Iberia BOS-MAD for spring break but booked it through American because if he has to cancel at least the money will not be lost. This worked well for me with an Air France itinerary which I booked at DELTA and I had to make some changes.

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