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How to CHANGE an Airline Ticket

For some of us it may be very easy to make changes while others would not know where to start. You can change a ticket yourself by calling an airline directly or ask an agent who issued a ticket help you on that.

In most cases you need to contact the ticket issuer – your travel agency or an airline. Usually the airline will not talk to you and refer you back to the agency if a travel agency issued your ticket, unless you want to change the return trip and you have already flown a portion of your trip. Read more under “Travel Date Change” below.

Name Change

If your name is misspelled on the ticket, it is very likely that you need to change it and have your name corrected. Most airlines allow some misspelling on the name as long as the first 4 letters are spelled correctly. So check with the carrier you’re flying what you need to do.

The regular procedure is to do the exchange, which is to cancel (in technical language to VOID a ticket) the original ticket and issue a new one. Another option you may have is to refund a ticket and issue a new one. In some cases you might be asked to pay for such procedures unless this is an agent’s mistake; a travel agency or an airline may waive the fees associated with exchange or refund.

Note, in most cases gate agents are the decision maker. If they decide that you’re good to go even with a misspelled name, you will be fine until the next check in point. However, they may decline letting you on board even with one misspelled letter.

Travel Date or Route Change

This procedure is very similar to the name change. The most common ticket change type is the date change. You may need to change departure and return or one of these dates. If you need to change the ticket date before you depart, you need to contact a travel agent or an airline agent, whoever issued your ticket. If the ticket is issued by a travel agency, the airline might not be able to make changes and may ask to contact a travel agency. This happens mostly because there are so many different fares (even for the same airline); each travel agency can have different ticket fares and rules for the same flights.

If you need to change the return trip date, especially if you have already used a portion of your ticket, usually this is done with an airline directly. If you are booked on several airlines, contact the airline that has issued a ticket. You may find that information (if travel agency is an issuer) on top right corner of your ticket above the passenger’s name, whether it is a paper or electronic ticket receipt. If you travel internationally or have a transatlantic flight, contact the airline that is flying over the Atlantic Ocean.

Usually there is a fee to exchange your ticket, but sometimes you may need to pay even more to change a ticket. The most common reason is lack of availability. For example, if your original booking is on Q class, but at the time of the exchange only H class is available, you might need to pay a change fee plus the upgrade to the next available fare.

This is the most common misconception and frustration on the passenger side when they are asked to pay more than the change fee. From the agent’s perspective, there is much more than just finding you a seat, an agent need to find a seat in the same service class as per the original ticket. If availability is 0 in such class, certain rules need to be followed to upgrade, etc.

TIP. In my world, there is no such thing as unchangeable ticket or when the airline says changes are not allowed. From over 10 years of experience in the air travel industry, I can tell that 99% of the time your ticket can be changed and you do not have to lose money and throw ticket away if you cannot travel.

Ask the airline (not a travel agency) miracle questions:

  • Can you cancel my trip and can I have the money paid apply as a credit towards the next trip? If they say yes, you will get a credit that you may use next time you travel on this particular airline.


  • Can I prepay towards the next available service class, in other words, upgrade my ticket? In this case, you’d need to pay the difference between what you have paid and what fare is available at the time of the ticket reissue.

You can always  get a travel insurance to feel  safe (always know the terms and what situations do not qualify for the refund of your money).

Check out other travel tips:

How to Find the Best Air Travel Deal
Got Bumped? Overbooking & Pre-assigned Seats
Paper Ticket or E-ticket?
Information on Your Airline Ticket

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4 Responses to How to CHANGE an Airline Ticket

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