Schedules aren't always set in stone and sometimes we need to make changes to our travel plans. Unfortunately, those flight changes often come at a price – a change fee. Sometimes, changes can be made without fees, but it's not always possible. Research your airline before purchasing the ticket. As travelers, we are often lulled into the cheapest price, but if your circumstances change, this often can put you at the bad end of the deal. Before buying your ticket, read the company's website or talk to your travel agent about what happens if a flight reservation is canceled or if you need to change your itinerary. Having this knowledge ahead of time will prepare you for such an eventuality.
Go to the airline's website
Click on the log-in link or an area for schedules and checking in. Even if you booked your flight through a third-party website, such as Expedia, you should make changes at the airline's website.
Retrieve your reservation
Enter your confirmation, e-ticket, credit card number or mileage rewards number (if applicable) into the airline's website. This will bring up your itinerary.
Make the changes necessary to your flight
You will need to know your confirmation, reservation or electronic ticket number to do this. Enter this number in the appropriate field on the airline's website -- there will be a link to "schedules" or "itineraries" and check-in on the site. This will bring your flight information and itinerary up on your computer. Most sites ask you to click on the flight number and then ask you if you want to change the flight. This will bring up options to do so.
Try to change the flight
Try to change the flight rather than canceling it, even if you are changing the entire thing. Sometimes you can avoid fees by changing your flight rather than canceling and rebooking. Search for new flights and add them to your itinerary. There might be fees or taxes associated with the change that you'll need to pay online. Sometimes you will have to only pay the fare difference for the new itinerary from the original flight, so if the original ticket was more expensive, sometimes the ticket changes won’t cost you anything for your new airfare. Additionally, sometimes cancellation fees aren’t as high for domestic flights and you may be able to get a full refund or award ticket depending on the departure time.
Call your travel agent
Your travel agent might be able to manage booking and make changes to your flight details without a fee being charged. Travel agency members have special deals with airlines and may have codeshares or confirmation numbers they can use.
Call the airline directly
This is the preferred method if something unavoidable has happened, such as illness or death in the family, and you need to change the airline tickets and would like to avoid penalties. The customer service agent might be willing to help you change your flight booking without charging a penalty, depending on your reason. Be polite and honest and they might be able to help you at least reduce fees if not completely eliminate them for your future flight.
Purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance will guarantee that you get your money back should your flight be canceled or you have to cancel due to illness or other circumstances.
Try to make schedule changes, especially for international flights, as far ahead of the departure date as you can. Same-day flight changes are harder for providers and may have stricter fare rules and a harsher cancellation policy.