Travel Tip: How to Change Non-Changeable Airline Tickets

By shopping in advance and agreeing to fly on certain days, airlines sell us cheap airline tickets that are non-changeable. But I have been able to change some of them.

Here are some of my experiences and thoughts about making changes to nonrefundable and how to change nonchangeable airline tickets.

How to Change Non-Changeable Airline Tickets

First, cheapest airfares have the most restrictions. In exchange for shopping far in advance, agreeing to fly on certain days at certain times, and sometimes flying odd routings, the airlines sell us cheaper tickets.

However, cheaper airfares come with restrictions such as no refunds and fees to make any changes—thus “non-refundable” and “non-changeable” fares.

However, it is definitely possible to change nonchangeable airline tickets.

I have been able to make itinerary changes to many non-changeable tickets. In most of those cases, I requested and took earlier flights, usually on the same day. Other times I was able to change connection cities or even arrival airports.

Here are two of my successful scenarios changing non-changeable airline tickets:

view of inside of Condor Airlines airplane

Changing a Non-Changeable Flight, Scenario #1

I booked an award ticket (free airfare using frequent flyer points) with an itinerary from Dulles to Atlanta to Salt Lake City to Anchorage. Whew!

When I booked the ticket, that was the only available itinerary. Award tickets are often even more restricted than discounted fares, because free tickets do not make the airline any money.

When I arrived at Dulles airport, I noticed that there was a flight from Dulles to Salt Lake City leaving before my flight to Atlanta. I asked the gate agent if I could switch. She first said No because it was a non-changeable and severely restricted ticket.

I asked if there were available seats (there were plenty) and said that by changing it would open up two revenue-generating seats on more popular routes (the flight to Atlanta, for instance, was full). Besides, I did not have any baggage to check.

She eventually agreed and let me switch. I ended up with a six-hour stopover in Salt Lake City, which I used for family history research.

Changing a Non-Changeable Flight, Scenario #2

I booked a Monterey California to Boston flight tinerary using a promotional certificate. The fare was cheaper than any available fare and thus was unpublished and even more restricted.

I made two or three connections to fly from Monterey to Boston. It was an interesting routing but worth it to save so much money on the airfare.

I wanted to return from Boston a day or two early and went to the airport. After being told no way because of the ticket rules, I mentioned to them I was flexible to any itinerary they could provide.

It was in the afternoon and the agent said they could not get me home that evening. I said that was OK and ended up flying to Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, before returning to Monterey the next day.

Crazy, right? But, I DID change that supposedly not changeable flight ticket.

Turkish Airlines flight over Himalaya mountains in Nepal

Change Non-Changeable Flights Success Ratio

By no means was I able to change all my non-changeable airline tickets to desirable itineraries. I am not even sure it has been more often than not. I can tell you that it is definitely not impossible.

My experience is that if a flight has available seats, if you have a pleasant demeanor, and if you are flexible (have no checked baggage), then there is a high likelihood that the gate agent will change your non-changeable ticket.

McCool Travel Tip: travel with only carryon baggage and be nice to airline agents will significantly increase your chances of changing your non-changeable airline ticket.

Thank you for reading this travel tip article about non-changeable airline tickets. Best of luck with all your future travels and may you enjoy travel funness and happiness.

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