How fair are ticket change fees?

windowFrom time to time, every consumer advocate tilts at a few windmills, and when Sheryl North contacted me about her US Airways flight, it was my turn.

North was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Kona, Hawaii, late last year. She was using a voucher to pay for the flight.

“Something arose unexpectedly and I was forced to cancel,” she told me. “I am now trying to use the voucher to rebook the same itinerary.”

US Airways doesn’t just want to charge her $150 to change the itinerary, which surprised her. “I didn’t realize the change fee would apply to use of a voucher,” she says.
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Are airline fees being fairly disclosed?

Air travel is full of surprises, some good, many not.

Steven Allen says he got a bad one recently when he called to change a United Airlines ticket from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. To move his return date from Oct. 25 to Oct. 27, the airline wanted him to pay another $300, nearly half the $686 airfare.
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Is this the only way to change the TSA?

Here’s a question everyone should be asking after last week’s stunning verdict against Andrea Abbott, the Nashville mother who tried to stop TSA agents from patting down her teenage daughter: Where do travelers turn when they have a legitimate grievance against the agency charged with protecting America’s transportation systems?
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Are airlines unjustly profiting from ticket change fees?

It makes the world go round. / Photo by 401k/Flickr Creative Commons
What’s the best way to correct the name on an airline ticket? If you’re Akshay Malhotra, the answer is: Buy a new one, of course!
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Denied boarding because I didn’t pay a change fee

Always read to the end. The very end.

That’s my takeaway from today’s failed case, which involves a woman who was denied boarding on a United Airlines flight because she hadn’t paid a mysterious fee.
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“It sounds like criminal activity to me”

Getting a ticket name change can be an uphill climb. / Photo by ykanazawa1999 - Flickr
And now, a little story about names, online travel agencies, airlines and the TSA.

Are you still with me?

Good. Because this could affect your next trip if you’re not careful.
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Want an airline to change? Then speak with a million voices

If you don't change you could end up here. / Photo by jwm 1049 - Flickr
When it comes to customer service, travel companies constantly push the limits with fees, surcharges and onerous policies. No industry does it more than the airlines, and no domestic airline does it more than Spirit Airlines, the small Florida-based carrier known for its risque ads and creative extras.

But consider what happened to Spirit last week, when the carrier made two decisions that drew an immense amount of publicity, much of it unexpected.
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Do taxi drivers prey on tourists?

How would you like to get ripped off today? / Photo by twicepix

It happened again to Peter Lawton last week. He got scammed by another cab driver, he says.
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Airline tells hospitalized passenger “people pretend to be sick all the time”

When Rela Geffen was hospitalized after suffering from congestive heart failure recently, she assumed her airline would take care of her. She was in Georgia on a business trip, but she’d paid an extra $19 for trip interruption insurance on her US Airways tickets.

And this is one of those times when I’m happy to say that the insurance came through for her. US Airways charged her a $125 change fee and a fare difference to fly back to Philadelphia a few days after her originally-scheduled flight, plus a $25 fee for making the change by phone, and her insurance picked up the tab.

“They were great and paid the $325 promptly after I returned home,” she says.

But that wasn’t the problem.
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