Cancellation fees and change fees bring in a staggering $2 billion a year for the airline industry. Some airlines now make even more from these fees than they do from the much-maligned checked-baggage fees. And, like most airline fees, they’ve gone up: the average ticket change fee is $150, compared to $100 last year. Budget carrier JetBlue recently upped its fee to $100 from a manageable $40, and now even penalty-fee holdout Southwest Airlines is considering jumping on the bandwagon.
What gives? Why should we be charged $150 to change a $200 ticket because someone got sick and couldn’t fly that day? A spokesman for American proffers the following advice: “Every traveler should weigh the likelihood they will have to change their itinerary prior to travel when assessing each fare type and price.” Mmmm-kay?