Last week I was supposed to fly to San Francisco to cohost a #TravelSkills Twitter chat but I got sick, then my wife caught it and I couldn’t leave her alone with the baby. My non-refundable ticket cost $288 (I bought it 10 days in advance) and I knew that if I canceled it, American would charge me their obnoxious and outrageous $200 change fee.
Since I have elite status on American and I can make same-day changes for free, I decided to call just before my 2pm flight was about to board. I didn’t want to make a change too early in case that flight was delayed or canceled, which would entitle me to a full refund (exactly what I wanted).
When it was clear that the flight was going out on time, I called and changed it to the last one of the day. I saw the weather at SFO wasn’t going to be great so the chances of the last flight being delayed were very good. Sure enough, I soon received a notification that the flight was indeed delayed by an hour, which is exactly the amount of time that American requires to give full refunds. I called and received the whole $288 back. Score one for the little guys! BTW: That flight didn’t end up departing LAX until 1:57am (see above)!
This is a great trick for those who have elite status. Those who don’t should fly Southwest Airlines, since they don’t charge a change fee. JetBlue would be my next option since they charge a much more reasonable $70 fee.
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