Quick travel tip: Book directly with the airline.

The Covid-19 pandemic has upended a lot of things about the travel industry. And airlines, in particular, are still working out how to entice travelers to book seats on their planes.

One of the most consumer-friendly developments is that major airlines have eliminated change and cancellation fees.

After all, who wants to pay for a flight only to find that it’s completely worthless if you need to change your travel dates because a global pandemic upended your plans.

That’s great news for consumers. It means we can book travel today and, if our plans change next week or next month, we can:

  • change our travel dates, or
  • cancel our flights and get a voucher that we can use when we’re ready to fly

But a lot of online travel agencies have not waived fees.

This is all great news—unless you booked your flight through one of many online travel agencies who have not waived their fees.

Take the example of FareDropped member Shaun, who had booked a one-way flight home from Europe to Chicago on IcelandAir through the online travel agency GoToGate.

(You’ve probably seen this online travel agency show up in your results if you’ve ever searched for flights through a travel search engine like Kayak or Google Flights.)

Long story medium, Shaun had to cut his trip short because of the Covid outbreak—and subsequent travel restrictions—in northern Europe.

The good news: IcelandAir had waived all change and cancellation fees (which used to start at $250).

The bad news: Since he had booked through an online travel agency, he had to make all changes through GoToGate. And they were not waiving their change fees or their ticket cancellation policies. (They also weren’t picking up the phone.)

The online travel agency was charging:

  • A $50 fee just to get access to a customer service agent who could make a change
  • Another $250 change fee to actually make a change

Outrageous? Absolutely.

There are a number of other benefits that come with booking directly through your airline, including priority re-booking if your flight is delayed or canceled.

These days, airlines almost always offer the same exact price that you would pay through the most common and reputable online travel agencies, ultimately saving you money, hassle and time.

In summary: when you can, book directly with the airline.

We suggest using a travel search engine—like Kayak or Google Flights—which compare different fares for you. And then book directly with the airline that has the best flights that suit your needs.

And be sure to sign up for a free trial of FareDropped, so if the price of your ticket falls after you book your ticket, we can help you get a voucher from your airline.

The rules of air fare have changed — in your favor.

Did you know you can save money after you’ve booked a flight?

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused airlines around the world to rethink their approach to their long-standard “change and cancellation fees.”

You know, those pesky, arbitrary fees that airlines used to charge you every time you wanted to make a change to your ticket.

In the past, if airfare prices dropped after you’d paid for your ticket, it didn’t matter much. If you tried to get the better price, airlines would impose a hefty change fee (often hundreds of dollars), which would reduce or wipe out any savings.

Beginning in 2020, as a result of Covid, airlines dramatically revised their change and cancellation policies, largely eliminating these once-onerous fees that limited or eliminated flexibility.

Why such a major change to benefit customers?

Don’t worry–it’s not some mind-blowing altruistic shift over at the airlines. It’s because the new relaxed policies benefit them, too.

There is a lot of uncertainty these days when it comes to booking travel, including government travel restrictions that can change overnight–even while you are in the middle of a trip.

In the “before” times, prior to Covid, demand for travel was steady and airlines could get away with either outright refusing to offer refunds to passengers or charging hefty “change” fees that cost hundreds of dollars.

But airlines have seats to fill. And they’ve had to find ways to encourage customers to book flights when travelers know that their plans could change unexpectedly and for reasons beyond their own control.

Uncertainty is not good for business.

So, one way many airlines have shored up consumer confidence is by eliminating change and cancellation fees.

So what happens now when fares drop after I’ve booked?

In most cases these days, you are entitled to a credit from the airline for the full difference in the old vs. new cost of the ticket–in the form of a travel credit for future travel.

Of course, every airline has a slightly different process for obtaining a refund and different rules based on the type of fare that you’ve purchased.

For example, starting in 2022, a “main cabin” ticket on Delta Air Lines will be eligible for a credit, but a “basic economy” ticket will no longer qualify. Last year, even tickets booked in basic economy are eligible for fee-free changes.

Did your eyes just glaze over? If so, please keep reading.

It’s a lot to keep up with. The good news is that you don’t have to do the work.

Our free service, FareDropped, keeps track of airline policies for you, tracks your flights, alerts you when your flight has decreased in price and then helps you get a credit for the difference.

Our blog here at FareDropped aims to educate you about how to make smarter decisions that can ultimately save you money–and sanity–when it comes to booking air travel.

And our FareDropped service–free for new users–works to get you money back if the price of your flight drops after you’ve booked.