How to avoid airline feesMy dad used to tell me, “You should learn something new every day.” I totally agree with that sentiment, but let’s be real – some things are more fun to learn than others. For me, that includes new ways to save money. Turns out there are ways to save money that I didn’t even know about! In case any of you were also in the dark, I’ll be sharing secret money saving tips as I stumble upon them. To start, let’s talk about a secret way to avoid airline fees.

This summer, not only was I planning to go on an awesome vacation, but I was flying for free on points (thank you, consulting travel). I was all pumped to go until my boyfriend and I changed jobs and had to cancel the trip at the last minute. After a minute of panicking that my free trip was turning into an airline fee nightmare, I turned to every millennial’s best friend: Google.

After googling “how to avoid airline cancellation fees” (yes, I unabashedly Google all the things), I saw a suggestion to complain about a schedule change if you’ve been sent one. Luckily, it seems like these days airlines are always sending a schedule change, and I remembered that I had received an email that my flight was being pushed back by five minutes.

I called up United, assuming that they would laugh me off and tell me to cough up an insane amount of money. Turns out, all you need to know for United are the magic words: “the schedule change has made my flight option unacceptable.” They may push back, but if you repeat that the schedule change has caused you to involuntary cancel the flight, they will allow you to reschedule or cancel it with no fee.

The catch is, you need to have been sent a schedule change. Any change counts, even if it’s five minutes, but it’s got to happen. If your schedule changed you should get an email like this one:

avoid airline fees

It’s highly likely you’ll receive a schedule change notice at some point for your flight (search your inbox in case you didn’t pay attention). If not, you may be able to ask for an accommodation, but there is no guarantee on that method. If I hear of any ways to get out of the fees without a schedule change I’ll be sure to let you all know!


2 Comments on Hidden ways to save money: avoiding airline fees

  1. Carrie
    November 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm (3 years ago)

    Don’t think that if the schedule change was only 5 minutes and that is not the reason you had to cancel your flight that it is dishonest to use that as the reason to avoid fees? Wouldn’t it be more ethical to either incur the fees or cover yourself with travel insurance?

    • The Day Tradette
      November 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm (3 years ago)

      I understand your point, but I think the fees have gotten out of control on airlines so in my opinion it all tends to even out. Recently I had to cancel a flight because they were increasing my layover time on a red eye by 2 hours, and then I had to pay even more money for a different flight.


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