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 Help@CheapAir.com. Feel free to contact us with any questions, or ask them in the comments below to share with the community.

73 Comments

    1. 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.

  1. 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.

    1. 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 help@cheapair.com with a short description of the problem. We will get back to you right away within regular business hours. Hope this helps!

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. Hi Jhon,

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

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  4. 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?

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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,

    1. 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.

  7. I want to change my flight to a an earlier date to leave the day my parents leave from panama our airline is copa airline and how much would it cost?

  8. hi. I purchased a round trip ticket and still did not start my trip. can I change my return date now or only after my trip begins?

    1. Hi Eli,

      You can change your return flight either before your departure or after. What is your 10 digit CheapAir booking number? We’d be happy to check this for you.

  9. Hi i hv some doubts i booked my ticket from lincoln, USA to bangalore India. I hv made a one way trip. Now while returning back to USA is it possible to change the location from bangalore to coimbatore or chennai?

    1. Hi Divya,

      We’d be happy to check your reservation to review the rules of your ticket. What is your 10 digit CheapAir booking number?

  10. Hello I am wondering if I still get charged a fee to change my destination from Los Angeles to San Diego I just bought my plane ticket yesterday and I payed some type of insurance on the ticket.

  11. I purchased round trip ticket online and already fully paid… Can I change the date of my return and extend the date of my stay?

    1. Hi Jhulie,

      Of course. What is your 10 digit CheapAir booking number? We’d be happy to assist you with making any changes.

      1. I like to change to 25 October 2016 single senior one way to 28 October I have already booked my ticket

        1. Hi Martha, Can you reach out to our call center or email help center? 1-800-CHEAPAIR or help@cheapair.com. It will expedite things if you have your 10-digit booking number to reference (it begins with a #16xxxxxxxx). We’re happy to help.

  12. If I’ve already booked a domestic flight on Delta and need to change the return date, would purchasing travel insurance now help defer the cost of the $200 change fee? Thanks for your reply!

    1. Hi Greg,

      Not really. Travel insurance doesn’t cover voluntary changes. Depending on your dates and routing, you might want to evaluate if paying the change fee plus any difference in airfare would be cheaper than just booking a new flight. Otherwise, if you have to change your flights you have to pay a change fee to do so.

  13. I am in Thailand and want to change my ticket to an earlyer One. Back to Norway. I traveled trough dubai. I could not change my ticket online, probably because when my dad bought it, he said no to pay the extra fea, that Made it possible to change. Does that make it impossible for me to change mine, or can I call someone and do it, and if so, how much extra payment are we talking..?

    1. Hi Chantelle,

      What is your 10 digit CheapAir booking number? If you did not book with CheapAir, you’ll want to call the airline you’re traveling on and check with them what your options are. In most cases, changes can be made for a fee.

    1. Hi Elvis, Unfortunately I don’t have an easy answer for you. Every airline has their own policies. If you bought your ticket from us, we are happy to discuss your flights with the airline for you. If you booked direct with the airline or with another online retailer, I recommend you reach out to ask them directly. Good luck to you!

  14. Hii sir… I’v done my ticket from abu dhabi to delhi return ticket… But i want to postpone my day so can you please tell me how much i have to pay extra

    1. Hi Pankaj, Did you buy your ticket from us? CheapAir.com? If so, you should have a confirmation number that begins with 14 or 15 and is ten digits.Can you email us at help@cheapair.com to discuss? Otherwise, I’m afraid you’ll have to reach out to the airline or vendor you booked with to get that question answered. Fees do vary.

  15. I booked to travel on the 12/28/15 but now I commit travel on those dates and want to change it to end of February, and what is the best time to report the change?

    1. Hi Patrick, You should let the airline know of the change as soon as possible. You will likely have to pay a change fee plus the difference in ticket cost for the new dates. So if you wait a while, the cost on that ticket in February will continue to climb. Make the change as soon as possible to keep your costs as minimal as possible.

  16. I bought a ticket from Honolulu to lax and I’m a couple days into my trip how much would it cost to change my return date back some time

    1. Hi Ashton, it really depends on the airline. Once you’ve traveled TO your destination, it’s usually much easier/less expensive to change the return flight than it would be if you were trying to change the outbound. But every airline has different policies. Good luck to you.

  17. Hello:
    I live in Jacksonville, FL with family who fly out of Syracuse, NY. I have been trying to find open airline tickets to send as gifts for visits when family to schedule their own flights. What can I do???
    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Elizabeth, All you can really do is purchase gift cards through the airlines. You can choose dollar amounts but not specific routes or “tickets.” You could always purchase changeable tickets, but those are vastly more expensive. I’d go the gift card route and let them know you’re giving them in the spirit of facilitating Syracuse/Jacksonville tickets. Hope this helps!

  18. Hi, I just want to ask how much the rebooking fee will cost for another stay for two days only from manila to texas thank you because the flight will be tomorrow dec. 31 2015.

    1. Hi there, I am not sure if I understand the question. If you are in the middle of your holiday (have already flown to your destination and would like to extend your holiday), there will be a fee but it should not be substantial. If you are trying to change your original ticket that has not been traveled on, it will likely be a VERY costly change. Airlines will charge you a rebooking fee PLUS whatever the difference in the fare would be from the time you originally booked until the day you chose to make the change. I hope this makes sense (and I hope the first situation is yours!) Happy holidays and good luck to you.

  19. I’m going to Orlando on March 9th coming back on the 16th but I wanted to see if there’s any possible way I can change it to the 18th because my daughters playing ball over there and I got the days mixed up on can you please let me know what it would be thank you so much

    1. Hi Karen, It really depends on how the ticket was booked (and with what company/airline). Most airlines have a 24 hour grace period so if you buy a ticket and then realize you need to change the ticket right away, you can usually do so without penalty. If you decide after that window closes, it all depends on the policies of that airline and/or online/brick and mortar travel agency. One tip – if you can keep the outbound ticket (March 9) it will be much less expensive than trying to change both the outbound and return.

  20. I booked my round trip from amritsar to Delhi from 8 March 2016 to 10 March now I have to go on 7 March and come back on 10 March how can 8th ticket be changed to 7th

    1. Hi Esha, To make this change at this late date, you will likely be charged a change fee from the airline plus whatever the fare now costs.

  21. Hi, I want to extend my plane ticket to a later date than I had originally booked. I understand that pricing varies, but I would really love to know a fixed price. Would it be possible for you guys to get in touch with me regarding extending the flight?

    1. Hi there, Did you book with us? We can help? If you booked with another online travel agency or the airline directly, please reach out directly to them. We can be reached at ask@cheapair.com.

    1. Hi Dee, It looks like the lowest fare right now for your dates is on EgyptAir for $1,358. This itinerary has a 12 hour layover in Cairo (an overnight) and the return has a connection through Atlanta (short layover of 1.5 hours) and a red eye (overnight) flight back. Please let me know if you’d like more information about that itinerary and I can send it to you.

  22. Hi, I extended my ticket due to medical reasons. Does American Airlines have medical waivers, where I can be refunded for the $200 ticket change fee? Thank you!

    1. Hi Arnie, while there is no set policy in place for such circumstances, a letter to the airline backup up with medical documentation (a letter from the doctor explaining circumstances, plus any other pertinent backup) might get you a partial or full refund. It’s certainly worth the effort to ask, though the airlines are selective about refunds. Good luck to you.

  23. I purchased a one way ticket for my mother last week from San Francisco To Alaska and she never showed up and now I would like to change name and the State from NY to Alaska. How much do you think I’d have to pay for the fees

    1. Hi Harmony, A no show is a problem. If your mom didn’t use the ticket, but she did let you or the airline know PRIOR to the scheduled flight, then the airline would charge you to change the dates PLUS charge a fee to change the name on the ticket (they do not make name changes for free). A no show situation in which your mom didn’t show and didn’t tell the airline will be treated as a forfeit altogether and you lose the cost of that ticket.

  24. Hi,please I’m a student going for academic studies in Fargo and I want a round ticket but my problem is that my departure will be from Accra to Fargo but my return will be from New York to Accra,please can the airline schedule this route for me and will the cost reduce or increase?

    1. Hi Nana, Yes, you can certainly book a flight into Fargo and out of New York. The cost will probably be more expensive than if you were booking a return trip out of New York (because New York will have more flights, the cost will be less), but this is certainly an itinerary you can book. What dates are you looking at? I can look into fares for you if you can share dates.

  25. Is it possible to buy a ticket for certain date but with no traveler name?
    Example: I want to travel to PR and invite a friend but I am not sure which friend will be available during the dates. So I want to buy an “empty/open traveler name ticket” and call with the name closer to the departure.

    1. Hi Melina, You’ll want to plan to purchase a gift card directly from the airline of your choice. I do not know of any airline that will sell tickets without names. I believe it is a violation of federal aviation law to do so.

    1. Hello, I am not sure if you mean change an existing ticket to be for a flight in 2019? If that is the question I can tell you, no. The airlines only announce their flight schedules about 11 months out. Many factors cause different flight schedules to change, so this is not a possibility for any airline that I know of. If you need to change your flight but you’re not sure of the date required, you may be able to turn your existing ticket into a credit for future travel, but I am not sure what the expiration date might be on that sort of arrangement and it may be different depending on the airline.

    1. Hi Jesse, unless things have changed in the last few months, the following can be used as a guide for domestic economy flights: In terms of legroom, your best bet is rows 13-25 on JetBlue planes, which give you 34″ of seat pitch on a slightly wider than normal, 17.8″ seat. Delta Song, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Airlines’ “signature service” jets and Independence Air’s Airbus A320 planes also give you 33″ of room. US Airways’ A330 jets offer 34″ of seat pitch in rows 9-19, according to SeatGuru.com.

  26. Just noticed on my ticket that the departure airport is wrong on ticket. I was to leave from Torp airport in Oslo but ticket is issued to other airport. The problem is the airports are not close to each other and a hardship of getting to the airport over one hour away. We entered the country with the right airport but did not notice that return was wrong as both are listed as airports in Oslo. We need to leave from the airport we arrived from. Please help…….

    1. Hi Steve, Did you book your ticket with us? If so, I would send an email to pur help desk at help@cheapair.com and reference your booking number. It should start with a #16 and be 10 digits long (i.e. #16xxxxxxxx). If you did not book with us, I recommend you reach out to the issuing online travel agency or airline to see what changes can be made without a fee (if any). Many times a fee will be collected to make this sort of change. Good luck to you.

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