When you purchase an airline ticket, always heed the warning: "Read the fine print." You probably already know that airlines make it difficult to transfer plane tickets, and depending on the airline, you may have very little luck changing or transferring your ticket to a different person; changing the date of the reservation; or changing other details of the reservation. Still, you can try.

Look at your ticket. Look for the words "non-transferable" or "restricted" on your ticket, as these words tell you if you can transfer your ticket to someone else or change your own ticket to a different time. If you paid full price for a first-class or business-class ticket, chances are better that the ticket will not be "non-transferable."

Visit your airline's website. Look for the "Reservations" or "Tickets" section to find information about their cancellation and transfer policy. In some cases, you may be able to transfer the ticket to another person or pay a fee to cancel the ticket and have it reissued in someone else's name. Arm yourself with some knowledge about the airline's policies to give you ideas on how to approach the next step.

Contact the individual airline that issued the ticket to inquire about transferring your ticket. Some airlines, such as American Airlines, have an online assistant who will allow you to change some tickets on the Internet, while other carriers require you to call the airline's customer service department. Provide the airline with the information about your situation so they can determine your options. Since airline policies and individual tickets change so often, the only real way to know what will happen with your ticket is to directly contact the airline.

Cancel your reservation, if you were not able to transfer your ticket through your airline's customer service department. In most cases, you'll pay a fee of about $100 to $150 to cancel your ticket, and the airline will issue you a credit for the remaining balance on the ticket.


Consider purchasing travel insurance from your airline or an individual company before your trip. Having insurance will sometimes provide you with a cheaper alternative for changing or transferring your ticket in the event of an emergency.