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Which airline is most amenable to a change to earlier use of return?

Which airline is most amenable to a change to earlier use of return?

Old Aug 30, 19, 7:26 am
  #1  
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Which airline is most amenable to a change to earlier use of return?

So I am ready to do a transatlantic flight, LED-MSY. The outbound part (early November) will be no problem, but depending on circumstances, I may want to do the return clustered around dates that are about 1-1/2 months apart (i.e., return in mid-February vs. late March), and would be quite open as to the *exact* dates for that return (basically, the question is whether I am to return early enough to go skiing for a few months or not). I have a lot of things I need to get done at my destination, but if I am successful by early February, and my finances come through as I am hoping they will (although not guaranteed), I would prefer to take the February flight, and otherwise take the march flight.

So, my options are to book a flight with a return in mid-February or late March. I am not sure how it works in extending a flight rather than shortening it (I am under the impression that it is easier to shorten rather than extend). If it means anything, I would be making the decision in late January or early February, and perhaps because late March would be much farther out, it would be easier to do with the original flight for February.

Of course, I want to get the low-fare. non-refundable flight, but as the ability to change the return is an important consideration, I want to know my options. I am using Kayak and all the websites that flow from that; it would appear that Kayak simply funnels customers to the airlines' websites. An important factor in my decision would be that Airline X charges only $50 to change whereas Airline Y charges $200, etc. I wonder if there is a list of what airlines charge for these changes; I don't want to have to look up all this info. I also understand that using a service like Orbitz could actually add a fee, although maybe my understanding is inaccurate.

On a side note, I can only use Discover Card, which I would presume will limit my options greatly!

Anyway. that's it. I am open to all suggestions.
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Old Aug 30, 19, 9:05 am
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As I see it, you have four options here (and I'm assuming that you have no low cost carrier options in your market - they do one ways). First, buy the tickets as two one ways with miles - it's far cheaper to change mileage tickets. Second, buy fully flexible tickets - wildly expensive. Third, investigate each airline's change fees and go with the best option. Fourth, buy the return for the later date and, if you want to come back earlier, simply buy a return for the earlier date from MSY-LED and either nest the tickets, or ditch both return segments.

As to finding out about the change fees, I think Expert Flyer might help - I'm not a subscriber so can't be sure. But otherwise it's simply a question of looking at each airline's rules for each type of ticket. Broadly, the more you pay, the lower the change fees will be.
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Old Aug 30, 19, 9:23 am
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Many cheap fares from Europe cannot be changed at all. At the other extreme, Aer Lingus allows changes on Business Class tickets for just the fare difference (which could be zero to expensive) but don't get very close to LED. Some airlines allow changes for a fee and, after the first leg has been flown, use the original price for the new ticket as long as the same fare class is available. I believe that Expert Flyer will let you look at the fare rules, otherwise you have to go to the last step before buying the ticket to see them. The important thing is to check the detailed rules very carefully, I don't think there is an easy answer other than that there is more flexibility with expensive tickets and ones bought with miles.
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Old Aug 30, 19, 12:25 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
First, buy the tickets as two one ways with miles - it's far cheaper to change mileage tickets.
Not applicable.

Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Second, buy fully flexible tickets - wildly expensive.
Defeats the whole purpose of trying to get an inexpensive ticket.

Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Third, investigate each airline's change fees and go with the best option.
This was basically what I asking advice for. The optimal solution would be a website that lists all the airlines and their ticket-change prices.

Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Fourth, buy the return for the later date and, if you want to come back earlier, simply buy a return for the earlier date from MSY-LED and either nest the tickets, or ditch both return segments.
Then I would need to know exactly when I'd be taking the next trip, which is even more nebulous than this current trip. Ditching the return segments would immediately cost 2X.
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Old Aug 30, 19, 12:53 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Fourth, buy the return for the later date and, if you want to come back earlier, simply buy a return for the earlier date from MSY-LED and either nest the tickets, or ditch both return segments.
Originally Posted by swampwiz View Post
Then I would need to know exactly when I'd be taking the next trip, which is even more nebulous than this current trip. Ditching the return segments would immediately cost 2X.
Note that two round trip tickets could still be the cheapest solution so you should check it out. If you end up using the later return then you have paid nothing extra and if you come back earlier you are out the cost of the extra trip, which may be less than you can change a ticket for. You may need to buy separate tickets given your point of origin and that may entail padding the time between flights and overnight stays. There isn't much alternative to doing the research as these things are somewhat deliberately obfuscated.
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Old Aug 30, 19, 1:32 pm
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Originally Posted by swampwiz View Post
This was basically what I asking advice for. The optimal solution would be a website that lists all the airlines and their ticket-change prices.
Is there a list of Cancellation fees by airline?

We've had a similar discussion, this won't happen before change/cancel fees can vary even within a single airline on the same route. It's mentioned directly on the fare basis when you purchase the fare

Also, not mentioned in this thread- even if u find a ticket with decent change fees, you may have to pay the fare difference for your new flight. Depends on fare rules/airlines too, and availability of fare buckets when you decide you want to change

And no, there's no website/table describing the possible fare differences you may have to pay
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Last edited by paperwastage; Aug 30, 19 at 1:42 pm
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Old Aug 30, 19, 3:06 pm
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Originally Posted by paperwastage View Post
Also, not mentioned in this thread- even if u find a ticket with decent change fees, you may have to pay the fare difference for your new flight. Depends on fare rules/airlines too, and availability of fare buckets when you decide you want to change.
I don't have a problem with getting priced into another bucket. I intend to make the decision about 6-8 weeks before the new flight, so that new bucket shouldn't be too bad.
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Old Aug 30, 19, 5:15 pm
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If you're originating in LED, I'd also make sure that you don't get wrong information from US customer service - Flights originating outside the US often have different fees than vice versa.
Definitely read fare rules if you can see them.

Also, DEFINITELY buy direct from airlines, not OTAs
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Old Sep 1, 19, 7:06 am
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Well, I was going to suggest Southwest as they have a lot of flights to MSY and no change fees. But, then I realized, they don't fly their 737's to St Petersburg!
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Old Sep 4, 19, 9:26 am
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Actually, I wouldn't completely rule out Southwest.

It looks like LED-JFK actually has competitive one-way fares. (Aeroflot around $300 one-way.) So pairing a one-way with a WN nonstop LGA-MSY (around $100-150 most days in November) could be an option. <Insert all the usual cautions of using multi-itins here.>

That said, it looks like there are tons of cheap LED-MSY round-trips available for those off-peak dates. OP is probably best off just taking a stab at his likely return date and buying an R/T on the carrier with the least-bad change fees. The only issue he'd likely run into with fare bases is if he tries to change to a peak date around Mardi Gras.

I do multi-itin once or twice a year, and often adding an overnight in New York to do it, but usually it's because I have 4-6 people traveling and the cost savings are at least a couple hundred dollars per ticket.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 4:41 pm
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OK, I've decided to split the difference a bit, depart from LED a little early (my A/C system is not working, and it's long story, but I need to do a few other things to be able to address that, so I want to avoid an extended summer, and I'm hoping for normal luke-cool weather there in early Nov!) and leave MSY a little later, and just stick with that; hopefully I will accomplish my project list in the allotted 15-week time. So I am locked into my trip time.

I ended up getting the trip for $568 RT, and a layover hotel at AMS for only $63 (it fits my body-clock frame of waking up in the early afternoon LED time. and I shave about 4-1/2 hours of net door-to-door travel time on by doing such a layover, and this is a 2nd-day net time of about 18-1/2 hours, where the extra 4-1/2 hours would be when my body clock really doesn't want to afford it - and leaving MSY with ground transportation at about 21:00 on arrival should avoid any problem with the clusterfork traffic of the new terminal, if it happens to be operational then). Will be clearing customs in ATL with a nice fat (but not too fat) 2-1/2 hour layover (and ATL is the best airport in the East for catching a later flight to MSY). Anywhere but JFK!

As for Mardi Gras, as a former member of a krewe - but also as a skier that, due to the scheduling, does it for 1-1/2 months at the tail end of the season - I try to stay a little longer for the Mardi Gras when it is an early one. This year, it's Feb 25, but next year will be Feb 16, so I will just wait until next year to catch it. Ironically, when I do stay for Mardi Gras, I actually typically leave on Mardi Gras day, for which day flights are very easy to get (it's very difficult in the evening or the day after), as for me the "real" Mardi Gras Day is the Sunday before. If I really wanted to, I could catch a parade on the first major day of parades (i.e., the Friday that is a week and a half before Mardi Gras Day), but that would be the evening before my flight, and I always stay home the day before leaving (those early parades are rather dinky, so I'm not missing much).

Last edited by swampwiz; Sep 7, 19 at 4:50 pm
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