Airlines love to excuse their change fees by simply saying that passengers should either buy unrestricted tickets or purchase insurance. But for leisure travelers, unrestricted fares are often priced out of the ballpark and insurance doesn't cover everything — like mistakes.
Airlines can have delay after delay and change in schedule after change in schedule. But, when passengers have to make changes (often because of an airline's changes), they get slapped with hefty change fees and a change in airfare. It is not just. Airlines should bear some burden of their random schedule changes and cancellations.
Airlines are increasingly sophisticated with their fee structures. A "preferred" seat assignment fee varies from flight to flight, baggage charges are dependent on weight and/or time of payment), fuel surcharges vary from day to day. In fact, almost all fees are variable except the change fee on a domestic ticket. It would be reasonable and a good public relations move, to make the change fee variable too.
Are heightened change fees really dangerous for your health. Ask a family that has to travel with a sick and contagious kid rather than fork over change fees and pay for the difference in ticket price for a family of four.
A simple weekend trip on Virgin America turns into a major hassle. Common sense certainly didn't prevail.
With all the talk about additional fees that airlines are imposing on the traveling public, the oldest industry cash cow (and by far the most lucrative to the airlines before baggage fees) is the change fee. These fees on legacy carriers are always exorbitant and internationally, unpredictable.
Janice Hough believes that current U.S. carriers' policies towards changing tickets contribute to spreading colds, flu and other illnesses around the country. She suggests a common-sense solution to allow the really sick to postpone or cancel their flight reservations.
With all the added fees for onboard services, baggage, unaccompanied minors and pets, it's easy to lose sign of the cost to change a reservation. And while the airlines announce fare sales and mergers and new routes with much fanfare, they don't do the same when they increase their change fees. Which means that for travelers not paying attention, the costs can really add up.