What Does Refundable and NonRefundable Mean for Airline Tickets?


Have you ever tried to make a change to an airline ticket and was surprised by the restrictions and fees? Below is information for the more common types of refundable and nonrefundable tickets.


Refundable doesn’t always mean getting all of your money paid for the ticket refunded back to you. Below is what refundable may mean depending upon the rules of the ticket.

1. There is a cancellation fee that is deducted from the value of the ticket. The remaining value of the ticket after the fee has been collected is refunded back to the consumer.

2. Some tickets are completely refundable back to the original form of payment.

3. Some refundable tickets allow changes to be made without a penalty fee. When making a change to these tickets there may be a difference in fare to be paid meaning only the difference between the price of the new flights minus the initial price of the ticket.


Some airlines offer different types of non refundable tickets.

1. There are tickets that are very cheap that offers no form of a refund.

2. Some nonrefundable tickets do not allow any changes to be made. These tickets are sold by airlines and vendors such as Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia, etc.  This means if the ticket can’t be used as purchased money has been wasted. These tickets sometimes lack amenities such as not allowing check luggage or maybe seat restrictions.

3. There are tickets that allow changes but with a penalty fee. The fee is deducted from the value of the ticket. Also, you’re responsible for the difference in fare. Example, you paid $1000 for your ticket. The ticket has a $100 fee for a change so you’re left with $900.

You find a new flight for $300. So, the remaining value will cover the cost of the change. If the new flight cost $1500 then you owe $600. Some vendors or airlines will issue a voucher if the difference is in your favor while others do not give out vouchers. The buyer just does not receive the residual amount that is left.

There are so many different rules and stipulations, regulations and legalities involved with the tickets that are sold. Sometimes the above example noted in Example 3 isn’t as cut and dry since the prices of the tickets varies between roundtrip fare versus one way, minimum day stay, maximum day stay, and more. But this is a whole other post. For now, we’ll just keep it simple and stick with the basics.

Rules of a ticket can often be read before paying for a ticket during the booking process. Read if the ticket is refundable or nonrefundable on the website or call the customer service number to ask an agent. Inform the agent of the exact flights that you are looking to purchase as rules of tickets vary per flight especially for international travel.





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