Change Fees for Canceled Flights?

A friend just wrote to tell me that he was planning on flying a same-day round trip with United today.  He got a call last night canceling the flight.  Here’s a rough transcript of the ensuing conversion:

Friend: OK, please change the day of my trip to next Wednesday.

United: No problem.  That will be $150 for the change fee.

Friend: But you canceled my flight.

United: Yes, but you can take a later flight tomorrow.

Friend: No I can’t, because it will get me in at the same time as when my returning flight departs.

United: That will be $150 to change the flight.

Long story short, they eventually waved the fee (that would be the fee for canceling his flight).

I really bring this up because this is not the first time I’ve heard of an airline canceling a flight and then asking for the change fee.  Has anyone else run into this?


  1. Change Fees for Canceled Flights? | - pingback on June 18, 2008 at 8:04 pm
  2. I actually did get my ticket change fee waved on US Air. And I didn’t have to lie (much). The thing to keep in mind is, no matter how much they say they can’t give you back the fee, they are lying to you. They can. You just have to convince them you are worth it. This is how I did it.

    1. Act dumb. People always want to help dumb people. For the most part, these CS reps get yelled at most of the day. When they have someone that they think really needs help, they will feel more inclined to help you. If you seem a little discombobulated over the phone, this will build sympathy with the CS rep.

    2. In acting dumb, NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER admit that you know there is a fee. Once the rep knows that you know, you’re like every other guy out there trying to get something for nothing. When the rep tells you “that’s going to cost you $150” ask why, and ask them to explain everything.

    For example, after the CS rep was done explaining everything to me, I asked “is there any way to not pay it” in the most pathetic, helpless voice I could. She chuckled a little bit and then I immediately said “oh now your laughing at me” as playfully as I could. She laughed more (if you got them laughing, that’s a good sign).

    3. Build a report with the rep. The ole adage honey attracts flies better than vinegar is very applicable. Try to start up some small talk. Let the rep think you are a person, not a customer.

    4. Not every CS rep is the same. You might have to try this a few times. If you don’t get what you want with one, wish them a good day and hang up. There are close to 100 CS reps working there at a time. If it doesn’t work with one (and it probably won’t work the first time) hang up and try again. Almost assuredly, you will get someone else.

    5. Once you hear the magic words “well what is your reason for changing the ticket” have a good one in store. Mine ” I lost my job” which is actually true at the time so I didn’t have to lie. But you might have to.

    Hope this helps.

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