Fare Game

With airline change fees gone, automated reshopping for lower ticket prices can be a real cost saver
Predicting changes in airfares with any degree of certainty seems to be an impossible task. But as prices go up and down, the possibility of monitoring and locking in tickets at the lowest fares could be attractive to any travel buyer. Technology is now making that a realistic option, although perspectives vary on just how far automation has progressed.

Air tickets have been automatically rebooked and ticketed for years, according to Steve Reynolds, CEO of Tripbam. But savings were more difficult to come by compared to rebooking hotel rates because of change fees charged by the airlines. Now however, with airlines scrambling to rebuild demand, these fees have gone away, creating additional opportunities for savings. In addition, a required void window (48 hours in the US or same day in Europe) allows a change at no cost. With all change fees gone, a ticket can be rebooked without incurring additional costs from the airline unless the original booking was a non-refundable, non-changeable fare.

“Hotel rates and air fares are basically the same today,” Reynolds says. “We expect airlines to avoid charging change fees for the foreseeable future to keep demand high and corporate clients happy.”

Zach Ornelas, VP global network sales for UATP, agrees that the lack of change fees has made for greater flexibility and price control for the traveler. "The carrier is obviously missing out on the line item ‘change fee,’ but it is also presumed that the fare offered is profitable for the carrier."

Categories: Special ReportAir Travel

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