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September 7, 2020

Airlines Drop $200 Change Fees, But…

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:33 am

Last week, United Airlines made a bold move: it dropped its $200 domestic change and cancellation fee. In short order, American, Delta and Alaska all chimed in making similar announcements. So even on a nonrefundable ticket, if you want to change your flight or postpone it, you can do so without that financial penalty.

Change fees

The fine print of the new rules is not quite as rosy as the headlines, however, particularly for bargain hunters.

*MOUSE PRINT:

“Basic economy” fares — the least expensive seats you can buy on the major airlines — are NOT included in the new plan. So you’ll still have to fork over $200 for changes. In a moment of unexpected generosity, American, United, and Delta all said that basic economy tickets purchased by December 31, 2020 will also be granted free changes.

There are some slight nuances in how the various airlines are implementing the new rules. On United, for example, if you exchange a $300 ticket for a $200 ticket, they will not give you back the difference even as a credit toward future travel. American, however, will. And Delta will only commit to providing a voucher for the difference for flights booked this year.

A bit of additional good news was contained in the airlines’ announcements. You can now standby for an earlier flight the same day without having to pay a change fee. It is unclear whether this also applies to basic economy fare passengers starting in 2021, however.

For complete rules, check with your airline since the rules keep changing. Here is a good summary of the American and Delta changes, and the ones for United.




• • •

April 20, 2020

Frontier Airlines Hides Its Refund Option

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:55 am

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Transportation reminded air carriers that they had an obligation to provide refunds (not merely vouchers for future travel) when a flight is cancelled or is significantly delayed.

One traveler whose flight was significantly delayed by Frontier Airlines posted this cellphone screenshot showing the options he was offered:

Frontier change options

The airline is offering a full credit voucher and a $50 bonus, both good toward future travel. But do you see that unreadable bit of fine print on the very bottom? We have enlarged it many times below.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Frontier refund

Only if you saw that inconspicuous link could you apply for a full refund.

Come on, Frontier, be straight with passengers about all their options when flights are delayed or cancelled.




• • •

April 15, 2019

Fly to Hawaii for $6 Roundtrip?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail,Sweepstakes,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:10 am

Arby’s is running a promotion offering 10 lucky people the chance to buy roundtrip tickets to Hawaii for only $6.

Arby's contest

There are two opportunities to enter the sweepstakes: last Friday, and today (April 15th) at noon Eastern time. You will be flown first to Los Angeles, spend a night in a hotel, and then the next day, you will be whisked off to Honolulu in either first or business class. All for only $6. What a deal.

Except for one thing in the official rules.

Mouse Print*:

official rules

Your flights to and from Hawaii have to occur on the same day – April 27th. That’s right. Your day in Hawaii starts out with six hours on a plane going there. Then visiting an Arby’s to try three of their new sandwiches and be in a television commercial. And then another six hours on a plane back to the mainland.

As their ad states, “no volcanoes, no pineapple farms… just you, sweet buns, tender meat.”

So, if this is your idea of a fun vacation, hope you’re one of the first five today to win the trip. And here’s one additional consumer tip: You can save the $6 on the ticket by entering the promo code “Aloha.”




• • •

March 11, 2019

It Pays to Read the Fine Print, Literally

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

Since 2006, we have encouraged you to always read the fine print so you don’t get snookered by the strings and catches buried in advertisements, contracts, etc. A Georgia teacher did just that a few weeks ago and got an unexpected surprise.

She had visited a travel insurance website called SquareMouth to buy a policy for an upcoming trip. Like all insurance policies, there was a ton of fine print that could trip up a purchaser. Most people don’t have the patience to wade through that stuff, but our teacher did.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Squaremouth excerpt

The section above says because most customers don’t read the fine print of travel insurance policies to their detriment, the company launched a contest to highlight this problem. It went on to say that the first person who spotted this section of the policy and contacted the company would win $10,000!

This smart Georgia teacher found the clause a mere 23 hours after the contest was launched, and is now $10,000 richer.

Squaremouth winner




• • •

October 23, 2017

AA & UA Penalize Carry-on Luggage Cheats

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:23 am

A number of the full service legacy airlines have recently introduced “basic economy” fares that are stripped of some usual conveniences. One of the rules of these fares is that you can only take a small personal bag onboard that fits in the seat in front of you. You are prohibited from taking a larger piece of luggage that normally would go in the overhead bin.

How do airlines enforce this new restriction? They’ve started checking at the gate since basic economy passengers all board last. And if they catch you with a piece of forbidden luggage, you not only have to pay the normal baggage check fee but they also assess a penalty for trying to cheat!

*MOUSE PRINT:

Baggage details (American Airlines)

You can board with 1 item like a purse or small handbag that fits under the seat in front of you and is not larger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm). You won’t have access to overhead bins.

All other items must be checked at ticket counters and cannot be carried on. If you take them to the gate you’ll pay an extra $25 gate service fee per item plus the applicable bag fee. [Emphasis added.]

That’s the rule at American Airlines. Over at United, they have the same policy:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted

You’re not allowed a full-sized carry-on bag unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation, the primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Allianceā„¢ Gold member. Everyone else who brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate will be required to check their bag and pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge.

If you want to avoid these penalty fees and restrictions, remember that Southwest Airlines does not charge checked luggage fees for the first two bags.




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