02/11/2014 12:54 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2014

Travel Tips: Avoiding Fees When Changing a Flight

VACATION TIME! You finally purchased your plane ticket, you are already daydreaming about the piña colada that will soon be in your hand and then -- life gets in the way.

Sometimes, a travel date must be modified. Before you start changing your plane ticket, here are a few things you need to consider.

Refundable Tickets:

Refundable tickets are self explanatory. You can cancel or change your flight dates with no financial repercussions. Of course, they are two to four times more expensive than a regular ticket. If you must have the flexibility and can afford it, this is your best choice.

Non-Refundable Tickets:

Well, guess what? They are non-refundable. Yes, they are significantly cheaper than refundable tickets, but you need to keep two things in mind: If you cancel your ticket you get zero back, and if you decide to change the dates of a trip, you will be charged a penalty.

Changing a Non-Refundable Ticket:

Again, you have two things to keep in mind:

Just for the mere fact that you are changing the ticket, you will need to pay a penalty ranging from $50 to $200 for domestic flights, and $200 to $400 for international flights. And if the fare of the new ticket is more expensive than the fare of the original ticket, you will have to pay the difference.

It all comes down to doing the math. Add the change date penalty plus the fare difference and you might be better off purchasing a brand new ticket.


Ticket Vouchers.

If you are unsure what your new travel dates will be, you can always ask for a ticket voucher. That way you will only have to pay the penalty and fare difference once you are ready to commit to a date.

Compare Fares.

You do not have to opt for a refundable ticket to avoid the change date penalty. Most airlines offer options that allow you to change your date and skip the fee. The ticket will be a more expensive than the lowest fare available, but if you know you need some flexibility, this is your best choice.

Keep in mind that fees are subject to change and always confirm these fees with your airline.