Category Archives: airline fees

Changing plane, train, ballet tickets due to Covid (or presumably due to another illness or issue): what I learned

I am very glad I opted (uncharacteristically) to pay $100 extra per ticket for our flights to London so we’d get “changeable” tickets. When my husband tested positive for Covid this week (He’s ok. Bad cold symptoms and initial high fever) it was five days before our flight to London. I discovered it was surprisingly easy to rebook our tickets, pushing our trip back a week (in case I get Covid. So far so good.). We even got $90 per ticket in travel credits. (Never would have guessed the cost would drop.)

London friends I can’t wait to see!

Meanwhile, rebooking our train travel was NOT easy. I couldn’t just change the dates of travel. I had to buy new tickets, which was very easy. Then I could apply for a refund, which was ridiculously difficult. No surprise that it was easy to spend more money but not to get money back. Shame on you, Great Western Railway! This was compounded by the announced rail strike days…with no service on 3 days of our trip. Grrrr.

On another cancellation front, after failing to find someone to give my Joffrey ballet tickets, hours before the performance, I looked closer at the fine print on the Joffrey website and learned that I could exchange them for a credit to use for a performance later in the season. I called the box office and voila! Now I can go to a performance through April 2023 (the current season).

Who we don’t want to see in London

Back to the airline situation: Our “ main cabin” tickets, I learned allow us to change them —- specifically to rebook the same trip and do it several times, if need be, without charge, beyond paying more (or less, as it happened) due to the new flight possibly costing more than the original one. Good to know and handy in case I develop Covid.

Google tells me: “The main difference between main cabin and basic economy is cost. For cheaper airfare and more money in your pocket, you trade flexibility for flight changes and/or cancellations, seat selection options and the ability to earn miles at a high rate. Love them or hate them, basic economy fares are here to stay.Apr 22, 2022”

I asked the American Airlines agent what would have happened if we had the cheaper “basic economy” ticket and she said we would not have been able to change/rebook the ticket. Or that’s what I understood her to say. Surely, I said, if someone is sick, especially with Covid, you don’t want them flying and would help them stay off the plane. She then said something to the effect that they could rebook once. (Not sure about the other particulars ex: change fee? Paying the possible difference in fares? Etc.)

Last January, when I decided not to go to a gathering in Atlanta, due to a Covid spike, Delta gave me travel credits with my basic economy tix (or some such), which I am using for thanksgiving flights to NY. But that was cancellation not rebooking flights.

The fine print on the American website specifies the policy for a variety of what I loosely called “changes” and the varying options, depending on the ticket type/cost. Another variable: the airline you choose. For an American Airlines basic economy ticket for example: if you cancel a trip, you can’t exchange the ticket or get a refund. But if you need to rebook the trip, you can sort of. The process/options are more “restrictive” than higher priced tickets. (The fine print doesn’t mention the possible option of getting travel credits if you cancel.)

Moral of story: ASK what is available and politely but firmly stick up for yourself. Play the pity card if need be. Or appeal to the airline to be reasonable, although this doesn’t always work.

I still have not forgiven American for screwing up my daughter’s (expensive, albeit “basic economy”) flights to a family wedding in New Mexico in early June. They cancelled her flights (for non-mechanical, non-weather reasons! It was due to their staff shortage) and then gave her awful options for other flights. She came close to missing the wedding. And the changes added even more stress to the trip. I was particularly incensed that they would not give her an available seat that was a decent alternative because it was a much higher fare seat. She’d have to pay considerably more.

American has improved its customer service, although I don’t doubt my latest experience had to do partly with having a higher fare ticket. I braced myself for a long wait on the phone for an agent (several hours in the recent past with an airline) but got a call back in a matter of minutes and the agent was efficient and accommodating (again, perhaps in part because I had a pricier, more flexible ticket but still…)


Filed under airfare, airline fees, Airlines, England and U.K., London, Uncategorized

It takes a pandemic to get airlines to be reasonable…and finally drop charging change fees

It’s about time these airlines finally do what southwest has done for years. Now let’s get rid of checked baggage fees!!

Business updates: Delta and American follow United in permanently dropping some change fees.
Sent from my iPad

Leave a comment

Filed under airline fees, Airlines, Uncategorized

Catalina State Park, Seis Kitchen, The Dutch, 5 Points Market, Bon Boutique— Tucson

Morning in Catalina State Park

A few old favorites and new finds this trip. Catalina State Park did not disappoint. I never feel like I am really in Tucson without walking the Canyon Loop Trail, which this time had no water anywhere. Word has it, no rain since September. We had good street tacos at Seis Kitchen on River Road (al pastor and avocado good in particular).

I met my friend Mary across the street from the U of Arizona (Professor Mary) at The Dutch, where we ate salads and caught up  at a pleasant outdoor table.

near the U of Arizona

Along S. Stone

I dropped by two places I wanted to try last trip— Bon Boutique, (beautiful, pricey French housewares) and 5 Points Market and Restaurant, which had a funky coffee house vibe and what looked like excellent sandwiches and pastries. Next time (if there is one). I drove down nearby Convent Street to see some lovely revived, brightly painted adobe houses.

This was my first time renting from Advantage, which cost as much as the Arizona Shuttle round trip to Tucson. (And gas was cheap – $3.17 compared to $3.6 3 here.) I ordered a compact car and ended up with a minivan. Not the newest or cleanest but it drove fine. Now trying Frontier Airlines direct Phoenix to Des Moines. So far so good (which is more than I can say for the last flight I tried to take on Frontier).  I bought water and a sandwich before boarding since there is no free anything on board. The seats are hard and thin with a tiny tray but not too cramped. I had to pay for my seat ($9, i.e. way in the rear) and carry-on bag ($35) but c’est  la vie. I flew out on Southwest (which I prefer for many reasons to Frontier) — one of the first new direct Des Moines to Phoenix flights, on what seemed like a brand new plane!







Leave a comment

Filed under airline fees, Arizona, car rental, Tucson

On flying Air Canada and international/to Portugal via Toronto


Betsy in Evora

We never really got clear information information from United about what was involved in flying their airline for two of our three flights to get to Lisbon from Des Moines and flying Air Canada the last leg, between Toronto and Lisbon.

They were fine with selling us the pricey plane tickets that included the Air Canada flight but seemed to know little about the particulars. (We even had to call Air Canada to book seats for the Toronto-Lisbon-Toronto flights. United wouldn’t do it.) So when we couldn’t get a clear answer about whether our bags could be checked straight through to Lisbon (or if we would have to pick them up in Toronto and transfer them to Air Canada,) we opted to carry on our luggage. (And had to surrender our Swiss Army knife in the process.)


Dirck at Coimbra restaurant where guests post receipts on the wall

We were glad to have our bags when our planned two-hour layover in Toronto outbound evaporated as we were sat on the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare. At one point it looked like we would have to wait two hours to fly to Toronto (we didn’t find out until later that a storm had shut down the airport) but fortunately our delay ended up being one hour. We ran through the airport, went through some sort of expedited Canadian customs and easily made our 10 p.m. connecting flight. (Phew! If we had missed that flight we would have had to stay overnight in Toronto and wait until 4:30 pm for a flight to Newark and then get an 8 pm flight to Lisbon.)


Porto church


It was Canadian travelers whom we met in Toronto outbound who told us that on our return trip we would be able to go through U.S. Customs in Toronto, before catching out next flight to Houston. This was a relief since we had a two-hour layover in Toronto but only an hour layover in Houston (which means we would probably miss our flight to Des Moines if we had to go through customs there). I couldn’t get anyone to confirm this from the airlines but it is in fact what happened. Phew!

meanwhile the air canada planes there and back were old and cramped with NO movie screens. The only option was to use our laptops (or rent one) and get movies via an airline app. Huh?

Leave a comment

Filed under airfare, airline fees, Portugal

Maggie Daley park, Hubbard street dance, Acanto, Neocon, Riverwalk — Chicago

imageMy stay in Chicago has unexpectedly been prolonged, thanks to intense rain that led my 10:15 p.m southwest flight home from midway to be delayed two hours. At which point I was able to reschedule my flight at no cost to tomorrow at noon. Thank you Southwest. (Apparently this is possible after your flight is delayed more than an hour.)

Meanwhile, we had a good day in Chicago yesterday starting with a great performance by Hubbard street dance at the Harris Theatre. After the matinee, my sister and I walked around the new parts of Millenium Park/grant Park including

At Maggie Daley park

At Maggie Daley park

the lovely prairie gardens of Lurie Park and the cool kids playgrounds and  snaking ice rink at Maggie Daley park, although I gather locals were not pleased that old live trees were cut down to  make way for the playgrounds, which oddly feature bizarre dead trees.  We had an excellent dinner outside overlooking Michigan avenue at Acanto, a new restaurant owned by the same person in charge of The Gage, next door, (try the chicken piccata and the Bellini desert- a scoop of peach sorbet in a pool of prosecco.)

Today I went with my sister–in -law, a designer, to NeoCon, the enormous commercial  interior design show at the Merchandise Mart; then I walked along the new Riverwalk east to Michigan avenue. Chicago, looking good. Now if only it would stop raining.image


Leave a comment

Filed under airline fees, Chicago

Wow and Norwegian airlines flights to london – cheaper?

This from airfarewatchdog on cheaper flight options to london:

How to Save: The big trick that will help in 2014 is finding affordable airfare; other than accommodations, this is going to be your largest expense. With new low-cost transatlantic airlines like Norwegian and WOW promising to undercut major carriers’ prices in the coming year, it will likely be easier to pick up an affordable plane ticket to the British capital this spring and summer.

WOW Air, the new Icelandic low-fare airline, announced it would start flying between Boston and London/Gatwick this spring. Similar to Icelandair’s long-term flying pattern, flights will be via Reykjavik: leaving Boston in the evening and arriving in London the following morning, with the morning departure, afternoon arrival reverse pattern.

So far, WOW hasn’t announced anything about Iceland stopovers, but I’ll be very surprised if the line doesn’t offer stopover packages.



Flights will be in A320s, at a slightly below-average 30- to 31-inch pitch but average or better width. Although the airline is single class, you can reserve the extra-room exit-row seats and even guarantee an empty middle seat by paying extra.

Fares aren’t available yet, but the fare pattern will almost surely continue the carrier’s policy of offering very low fares to early buyers on at least some dates. Currently, for example, fares from London to Reykjavik are as low as £98 each way (about $157), including the onerous British passenger duty and a £6 “payment fee.” The only surprise is a very stiff charge of £19 for one checked bag.

Whether WOW flights will appeal to U.S. and Canadian travelers depends on one main factor: Will the fares be low enough to offset the increased flight time (compared to nonstops) and the hassle of an overnight stop? Back in the regulated days, low fares on Loftledir, the precursor to Icelandic, got a lot of budget travelers to accept those conditions, and many of them opted for a quick Iceland stopover. WOW seems to be hoping to replicate that formula.

You Might Also Like:

Leave a comment

Filed under airline fees, England and U.K.

Tips for if my flight gets screwed up at thanksgiving…!

Okay, so I am not convinced my flights will go well at thanksgiving because, well, it’s thanksgiving. I have tried to reduce possible snafus by flying direct (a rare treat from Des Moines although it does require a 6 am flight to Newark on thanksgiving day for close to $500′ insane I know) and avoiding the wed and sun surrounding thanksgiving. Still I am holding onto some good tips from the November Conde Nast traveler on dealing with winter flight issues :
– best time to fly on …Presidents’ Day weekend, which is also valentines day. Book in early december.
– other cheap tome to fly to warm weather places? Dec 3 to 16 (you are close dad!) and mid jan.
– try alternate airports. Tampa or Fort Lauderdale rather than Miami or Orlando
– nope problems in the bud. Fly early am (I knew that one) and avoid landing between 7 and 10 in say, ohare(we learned that the hard way on our way home from Boston last month when we almost got stuck overnight in Chicago,.
– if you have to do a connecting flight (yes, alas. We do) stay away from ohare (knew that too but hard to avoid). Opt instead for Dallas or Houston (really?)
– if you can’t get a seat when you book your tix online, call the airline to get from a phone agent. Apparently it IS true that you are more likely to get bumped if you show up,at the gate without a seat.
– checking in early also decreases your chance of getting bumped.
– if bad weather on the horizon, find out if your flt is cancelled by checking airline website or twitter feed for updates. Soone r u know the better chances of getting rebooked. (I learned that last fall en route to New Orleans from Kansas City)
– Have a plan b. I was just telling this to my daughter. Know what flights are leaving after your scheduled connecting flight, in case you miss it. Although you may not find a seat. Before your flight check, open “:delays” and then “global trends” which will show which airports and airlines are having the most cancelations and delays and which aren’t. Ask to be rerouted to a city that isn’t having problems. You can also sign up for A flight status alert with
– cancelled flight? Fly thru Vegas if if not necessarily on your way…it has lots of flights and cheap hotels (I am flying southwest thru Vegas to LA next month!) so for example on stead of waiting for a Boston Seatte
flight, try thru Vegas. (I am flying next month to Seattle to midway to Des Moines…was acttually shorter flight time then thru Vegas.)
– know whet alternative flight you want when you can to rebook (been there, done that) use again. Sign up for an account, click on flights, then flight availability, then advanced search, so you can specify airlines and city and seats.
– if airline phone is jammed, call the overseas reservation desk. Really???
You can get the phone number on your airlines web site and use Skype to call free. Wow (although I have had trouble finding airline numbers on the website)

1 Comment

Filed under airfare, airline fees, Chicago

Paying to reserve a seat on an international British Airways flight. Really???

So now I understand why my return flight from Prague to London on British Airways doesn’t include a seat assignment. Apparently I can only get a “free” seat assignment (for a very costly flight, I might add) 24 hours in advance. If I want one before that, I have to pay – and the fee isn’t listed up front.  (I finally found it after searching for too long.  It costs about $12, talk about nickle and dime-ing. For details see:  OR

That is really irritating!! I booked this flight via American Airlines – which I’m flying outbound from Chicago to London and on the return leg from London to Chicago (after I sit in a lousy seat I was assigned “for free” 24 hours in advance) apparently.  American kindly granted me reserved seats – who knew this is now a perk???

Leave a comment

Filed under airfare, airline fees, Chicago, London

Will the American U.S. Air Merger be good for us little folks?

I’m not sure what to make of the proposed American Airlines – U.S.Air merger – from what I gather it will further consolidate the airlines, leaving fewer options for travelers and the potential for higher prices. Then again, perhaps this is what both airlines needed in order to stay in business and I guess we consumers want that. Despite all the concerns about American of late, I’ve flown them recently and had no problems. (We’re flying American again next month from Des Moines to Phoenix.) I do have a bunch of free miles on American so will be looking to see if/how those are affected by the merger. And I do remember some initial operational glitches when United merged with Continental.


Leave a comment

Filed under airfare, airline fees

Taking the bus to Laguardia – and nabbing an earlier flight home in Minneapolis

I paid $2.25 (the price of a bus ride) to get to Laguardia airport this afternoon which is much better than a $40 cab ride – not as fast of course, but not as long as I feared. It took me an hour – from the time I picked up the M60 bus at 106th and Broadway to my arrival at Laguardia’s Terminal C – and frankly seemed faster than the express bus I rode into the city (for $12.50).

I had a three hour layover in Minneapolis so of course my arrival and departing gates were minutes away from each other (as opposed to my outbound flight when I had 37 minutes to get from one end of the airport to the other.) Noticing that there was an earlier flight to Des Moines (at 7:15 vs. 9:30 p.m.) I went to the gate for the earlier flight to see if I could get on. There was room but Delta wanted to charge me $50 (which United wasn’t going to do when I tried to do the same thing a week ago in Boston). So I said no thanks but then the Delta person saw that my 9:30 flight was overbooked so she waived the $50 fee. So here I am home – although my bag won’t arrive until 11 p.m. So I guess it pays to ask and stand your ground….at least sometimes!

Leave a comment

Filed under airline fees, Minneapolis, New York City