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  • All About Fare Rules



    Why do I need to know about fare rules?
    Great question.  With online travel reservations, you just tell the web site where you want to go and when, and the site will "find the best trip" for you.  All the fare rule interpretation goes on behind the scenes, so the consumer doesn't have to worry about it.  Isn't that the end of the story?

    Well, almost.

    I think online travel reservations are great because they do make it so easy for the traveling public to research travel and make reservations on their own.

    Most of the time the process works well.  In this case, I would argue that you still need to read and understand the fare rules for the ticket you are buying.  These rules are available online before confirming your ticket purchase.

    Remember that airfares are in fact very complex, and online reservation systems try to simplify them.   Sometimes this simplicity may mean that the best itinerary and fare for you may not appear in the list of options.  By understanding fare rules, you'll have a much better idea whether or not you're not getting the best fare and itinerary.

    To what rules should I pay particular attention when buying a ticket online?

  • what amount, if any, is refundable

  •  
  • if non-refundable, can the value of the ticket be used for future travel?
  • If the ticket can be used for future travel, it usually must be used within one year of the date of issue.  Furthermore, you'll usually have to pay a service charge (e.g. $100) to make the change.
  • what is the change fee?
  • Be careful.  You can't always change the ticket for the usual change fee.  See Rerouting for details.
  • Print out the rules!
  • Once a seat sale ends, you cannot find the fare listed on the online travel sites.  Thus, you will not be able to access the fare rules for later questions.  I highly recommend you print out the rules at the time you buy a ticket, and carry them with you when you travel.  If a dispute arises between you and the airline agent, you will have your fare rules to defend you (assuming you're following them).
    I'm not sure if the fare I got online is the best deal.
    We recommend using the flexible dates feature on Travelocity.com .   With this feature, you enter your origin and destination, and Travelocity will give you a list of published fares. You can then select a fare, see on which dates it's applicable, and proceed from there.

    If you still need help, call your travel agent.

    I need help understanding the rules displayed for my fare.
    See Fare Rule Basics and our Fare Rule Glossary.