How to Get Around The Worst Airline Fee

PHOTO: Here are some suggestion for avoiding the worst airline fees.

Worst airline fee ever? I nominate the "change fee." If you have to cancel a trip because you got sick, or maybe you suddenly realize days after you booked your flight that - OMG I bought my tickets for the wrong dates! - you will likely have to pay a change fee.

This is the worst fee because it's so expensive. Many U.S. airlines charge a whopping $150 change fee per ticket and on international routes it's a wallet-busting $250. So if someone in your family of four gets sick right before that June trip to Paris, you're out a thousand bucks.

Or more. Since ticket prices aren't static - and this year they've been rising steadily - you'll also have to pay the difference in price of your new airfare tickets along with the change fee, which is usually hundreds of dollars more.

Which brings up an interesting question: Ever wonder why the airlines can ding your credit card and send you the bill long before you've had a chance to use the product (seat) they've sold you? After all MasterCard and Visa regulations disallow billing before the product is shipped.

For better or worse you aren't the product being shipped on a plane; rather, the product is the ticket (contract) to be shipped.

For more travel news and insights view Rick's blog at

So what can you do about this worst airline fee ever? Some suggestions:

1. Think fast.

If the phrase, "We're from the government and we're here to help" has ever made you cross-eyed, here's a case where a U.S. agency is doing you a real service. Thanks to new regulations included in the U.S. Department of Transportation rule called, "Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections" - this went into effect in late January - shoppers now have 24 hours to change their minds after purchasing airfare without incurring the change fee.

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