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Services Spring Up to Help Flyers Hedge Against Exorbitant Rebooking Fees

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Fees to change flights have become so pricey that services allowing passengers to insure themselves against huge cancellation and rebooking penalties are starting to become big business.

Passengers who want a little more flexibility in making travel plans now have the option of using third-party services to hold fares and avoid hefty airline change and rebooking fees. Flyers have few options for getting a little more wiggle room to make itinerary changes when booking airline tickets. In the U.S., federal law dictates that airline tickets are fully refundable for any reason for twenty-four hours after purchase. American Airlines will let passengers extend that period to up to a week by paying a nonrefundable fee between $8 and $12 at the time of booking.

Of course, choosing to purchase a fully refundable fare can save flyers from unexpected change fees, but for many travelers, refundable fares themselves can be cost-prohibitive. According to a New York Times report, a new industry is emerging to allow passengers to lock in a good airfare and still have some flexibility to cancel or change travel plans. Services such as FareKeep by Flyr and Options Away will buy travelers a little extra time to decide before committing to purchase their trips for a nominal charge.

The services allow passengers to be able to hold fares through the companies’ booking sites without actually purchasing tickets. If flyers decide to cancel or change flights up to a week later, the travelers are only required to pay the nonrefundable service fee that held the fare.

Unlike similar “fare lock” services offered by the airlines, the tickets are never actually purchased. Instead, the Flyr and Options Away will work with travelers to find comparable fares. The services may not be offered on certain flights if the companies believe that the airfare will likely increase or sell out during the added grace period for cancellation that they typically offer.

[Photo: Getty]

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