Airlines Make Billions in Ticket Change Fees, Travel Insurance Commissions

What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

You think you're being smart by buying travel insurance to protect yourself from rising change ticket fees. But your claim may be denied.

It’s terrible enough when an emergency crops up, forcing you to change your travel plans. But airlines are profiting from your distress, raking in billions of dollars in fees from travelers changing or canceling flights, and from selling travel insurance, which is ostensibly designed to protect you when a crisis arises.

Last year alone, U.S. airlines pocketed more than $2.5 billion from travelers who changed or canceled flights, compared with $915 million five years earlier. On top of that, airlines and online travel agencies sold nearly $1.9 billion in travel insurance and travel assistance products, and there’s no way to tell how often insurers actually coughed up the cash when travelers filed a claim, a new report by the nonprofit National Consumers League found.

Many airlines charge you $200 to change or cancel your ticket for a domestic flight. If you want to get an idea of what your airline of choice is charging, SmarterTravel.com posted a list of all airline fees, including ticket change fees.

So what can you do in this uncertain world to protect yourself if your travel plans change?

Travel insurance concerns

While travel insurance seems like the obvious choice, with the sale of policies soaring 46 percent from 2006 to 2012, they may not be all they seem on first glance, according to the NCL.

Airlines and travel agencies often get commissions on insurance policies sold through their sites, so they score 10 percent to 40 percent of the policy’s cost.

And even if you have an important reason for canceling your flight, claims can be denied. A family member’s death may not be enough to get your claim honored, the NCL found. In fact, the Better Business Bureau has investigated hundreds of complaints about travel insurance companies in the past three years.

Read the fine print

If you’re considering buying travel insurance, it’s crucial to read all the fine print. In some cases, the details of policies are buried deep on an airline’s website, and the policies can be 10 or 20 pages long, NCL researchers found.

If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the policies often have exclusions, including for pre-existing conditions.

The report cites other exclusions, such as pregnancy, childbirth, being fired for cause, and participating in an amateur sporting event. So if your kid breaks an arm in soccer practice and you have to cancel your trip, your claim could be denied.

Know your airline’s policy

According to SmarterTravel.com, Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t charge a fee to change your ticket. Some smaller airlines charge lower fees than the major carriers.

American Airlines has implemented a tiered plan, where you can pay more for a ticket and not pay change fees, and you don’t pay extra to check a bag. The more you pay extra, the more perks you receive.

What changes are needed 

In its report, the NCL is calling for congressional hearings on airline fees.

The NCL also calls for changes that allow travelers to transfer their ticket to someone else, at no cost, and for airlines to waive fees if a person has to change their travel plans just a few days before their flight.

The group also wants travel insurance companies to clearly state their policy details, so consumers are aware of exclusions. And they want the companies to be required to report the amount of money they actually pay out in claims.

Have you bought travel insurance through an airline? What has your experience been? Let us know on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 8 Great Travel Freebies You Can Get in 2017

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,019 more deals!