Ask CheapAir: How much does it cost to change an airline ticket?

Wondering how much it will cost to change your flights?

That’s a harder question to answer than you would think because it’s the airlines themselves who set the rules and policies, not the website you buy your ticket from. And every airline does things a little differently.

Ask CheapAir: How much does it cost to change an airline ticket?

There are a couple of general rules, though, that apply pretty universally:

  1. Airline tickets are non-transferable. You can’t change the passenger name on a ticket or give it away to somebody else.
  2. If you buy a ticket on one airline, you can’t exchange it for a ticket on another. The original airline has your money and wants to keep it!

Beyond that, it gets pretty confusing. Read on for a deeper dive.

The cost to change a flight depends greatly on the airline that you have purchased your ticket from. Airlines have “penalty fees” that can range from $0 to $400.00 (yowza!) to make a change to your ticket. For domestic flights, most airlines charge around $200.

But the penalty is not the whole story. In addition to the penalty fee, airlines will also charge you the difference in fare between the old ticket and the new ticket. So you really have to deal with both a penalty fee and a change in price. Remember, these fees may hit you even if you are just calling to change your ticket to a different time on the same day. The change doesn’t have to be drastic to cause big differences in price.

Changing to a more expensive ticket

Let’s say you purchase a round trip ticket on Delta Airlines from Los Angeles to New York City for $250, a fantastic deal that you’d probably be pretty excited about. But later you realize you need to change the travel dates to one week later. At the time you make the change, the great $250 fare is gone and flights on the new dates are selling for $375. To switch to that flight, Delta would charge a $200 change fee, plus another $125 for the fare difference ($375 minus $250). So the change you want to make would cost $325 total. Yikes!

Changing to a less expensive ticket

Unfortunately, the airline policies say the reverse doesn’t work. If the new ticket is less expensive than the original, you wouldn’t get a refund and you’d still have to pay the penalty. There just wouldn’t be any fare difference owed. With penalties being as high as they are, sometimes the entire new ticket costs less than the penalty fee. In these cases, you’re better off just purchasing a whole new ticket (which is never very easy to swallow).

Not sure what date you need to change your ticket to

If you need to cancel your trip completely, and don’t know yet when you are going to travel again, most airlines will allow you to cancel and hold a credit with them for about a year. Airline tickets must be canceled for credit before the scheduled departure. You still will be charged the penalty fee to make the change, but you won’t have to pay it until you call back to apply the credit toward a new trip

Bottom line, it’s important to be aware when buying a ticket that making changes will likely be expensive. So try to be sure before you buy. You can buy travel insurance with your ticket for a nominal fee and that can help you to some extent, but travel insurance generally only kicks in for unplanned medical emergencies. It won’t help you if you simply decide you can no longer travel on the dates booked.

We realize this can be very confusing, but that’s what we’re here for! If you would like to change your airline ticket, or learn more about the rules for a particular airline, please contact a CheapAir Travel Advisor at 1-800-243-2724 or Feel free to contact us with any questions, or ask them in the comments below to share with the community.


  1. Wat to know the price of coming back change the time of my fight from Miami to new York war to know the price

    • Hi Keisha, Do you have your ten digit CheapAir booking number? I can help you with the changes when you can provide that information. You can also call us at 800-243-2724 if you prefer to speak to your Personal Travel Advisor.

  2. Please help me to change my travelling dates. Due to some urgency i need to change my dates. whom to contact? i am not seeing any options to do the same in website.

    • Hi Safeer, You can call us at !-800-CHEAPAIR during our regular business hours 8am – 9pm EST or send me your ten digit booking number to with a short description of the problem. We will get back to you right away within regular business hours. Hope this helps!

  3. what airlines do not charge a fee if you change your date of flight?

    is Southwest the only airline that doesn’t charge for bags?

    • Hi Edna,

      Southwest is the only airline that does not charge a fee to change flights. Southwest allows 2 free checked bags and Jetblue allows 1 free checked bag.

  4. How much money it will basically cost me to change my flight date? Please

    • Hi Jhon,

      What is your 10 digit CheapAir booking number? We’d be happy to check your reservation and let you know.

  5. If I want to return 5 days earlier to the US from Italy how much will that cost?

    • Hi Michael,

      That would depend on the airline and type of ticket you purchased. Typically changes to international flights can cost anywhere from $250 and up, plus any applicable difference in fare that may apply. If you have a 10 digit CheapAir booking number, you can call us at 1-800-243-2724 to speak with a Travel Advisor who can quote you the costs. Otherwise, you would have to contact the airline you are traveling on to make the changes.

  6. im trying to change my flight instead of dillingham, ak to kodaik, ak because my grandma just pass away. i dont have the change my flight. can someone help me out please.

    • Hi Peter,

      I’m sorry to hear of your loss. Unfortunately with airline tickets, the airline is the final decision maker on changes. You’ll need to contact the airline you’re traveling with and inquire with them. They may require additional documentation. It really just depends on the airline.

  7. I bought a round trip ticket raleigh nc to portland maine and the return flight departs boston ma to raleigh. How do i change the return portion so that i depart out of portland instead of boston and how much might the change cost?

    • Hi Mainet,

      What is your 10 digit CheapAir booking number? I’d be happy to check the change costs. Without knowing the type of ticket you’ve purchased and which airline, we cannot tell you the costs to change it since each airline has different rules and each ticket has different rules.

  8. Last Sunday 3/09/15 my wife and I tried to book flights to Vegas to see our youngest daughter. Our attempt to pick our own dates proved to be very difficult. As we were trying to pick departure date 4/28/15 return 5/02/15 it kept pushing the return date 5/05/15 Wow, 7 days. We adopted two small children and cannot be gone for that many days. I finally get everything set up to our satisfaction; dates, price, then purchase. Few days later get to a printer and what do you know, return date 7 days later . I just looked on the site and there are plenty of flights returning on 5/02/15. Not sure what to do. Paying more money for a change is not an option and would hate not to go all together.

  9. Hi, wanting to know if I would be charged to change booking when I have taken insurance, I have friends from America visiting and we want to change the departure airport please,

    • Hi Karyn,

      Voluntary changes will typically cost a penalty plus any applicable difference in airfare from your previous ticket to the new ticket. These costs vary depending on the airline and ticket type purchased. Unfortunately travel insurance does not cover voluntary changes, so you’d have to pay any fees to make the change. Fees can be expensive, depending on the airline. What is your 10 digit CheapAir booking number? I’d be happy to check your reservation.

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