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I have an international flight ticket from Emirates of which I took the first segment. I'd like to change the return segment.

I called Emirates. The operator told me that I have to pay and extra ~$1000 to change (The original price for the round trip was ~$1550). I want to change the return flight from September to October. Neither of them seems to be high season. They said there won't be any refunds either.

Any ideas? Is this normal? I was expecting to pay $200-$300 at most.

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As Damien has already said, this is not at all unusual and does sound reasonable given the original ticket conditions. Depending on the reason you need to change, double-check if your travel insurance will cover it. If you're just changing it because you feel like changing your plans though, it's unlikely it will. –  Andrew Ferrier Jun 2 '13 at 15:03
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2 Answers 2

That sounds quite normal to be honest and there is little that can be done for it (unless the change is due to disaster, medical or anything major like that). Did you read all the terms and conditions when you purchased the ticket? A lot of airlines will charge the almost equivalnet of a one way ticket, especially as you have travelled one leg.

Look at it from the airline's prspective, they are a business. They need to fill that seat (very likely they will), but they are insuring that they will not lose out.

The ticket, as you say, is nonflexible and nonrefundable after all.

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Exactly. I always check these conditions first on the assumption that I may very well want to change my ticket because I have done so many times in the past. Your other options are to either not by rigid tickets or not to expect to be able to make changes at low cost. –  hippietrail Jun 2 '13 at 9:21
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Changes to airline tickets normally include 2 components :

1) A 'Change Fee', which is as the name implies a change to actually make the fee. The actual fee will vary depending on a number of factors including the type of fare you have, when you purchased it, where the flight is to/from/etc. In general, change fees range from $0 up to $500 or more - but normally are in the $100-$300 range.

2) A 'Fare Difference'. Fares vary based on a number of factors, including day of week, time of the year, how long you stay at your destination, how full the plane is, etc. When you change flights to a different day, the fare is re-calculated for the new date, and as a result it can vary significantly.

In your situation I suspect the majority of the difference is coming from the 2nd item. For some reason, the fares available for your new dates are more expensive than your original dates. This could be as simple as them being on a different (more expensive) day of the week. It could be because your original fare was deeply discounted, and that fare had date or length of stay restrictions that you're now going beyond. Or it could be any number of other factors.

In order to try and reduce the fee, check online to try and find days when flights between the two locations you're flying are cheaper - just like you would when booking a new ticket. If/when you find cheaper days, then contact the airline and see how much it would be to change your flights to those same day(s) and I suspect you'll find the price will drop from what you've originally been told.

You could also ask the airline to see if there are any restrictions in the fare rules for your current fare that will be relevant. eg, if the fare has a maximum 30 day stay and you're now going over that then this will almost certainly result in a fare change to move to a less restrictive fare class.

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