Reasonably priced flights are usually non-refundable. Some airlines also offer refundable flights, where for a fee they can be cancelled and refunded, often right up to the day of the flight, but they're understandably much more expensive. Do any airlines offer anything in between? Flights that are cancellable, but only quite some time in advance, and at a lower premium.

The background here is that I'm arranging a holiday at the end of the year, and we want to book flights soon, partly to avoid being caught out by price rises, partly so we can begin booking other parts of the holiday, and partly because flights are needed before we can apply for one of the required visas. However one of the group is worried the holiday dates might clash with a conference he has to attend but the date of the conference won't be announced until the late spring or early summer. Our flight itinerary is quite complicated and will cost around £1000 in total, which is more than he is willing to lose if he has to drop out of my holiday. Equally, if he has to cancel it will be several months before departure, and he's loathe to pay a £800 premium (which is what it looks to be) for fully-refundable flights as he's happy he won't need to cancel at short notice. I'm wondering whether there might be some other style ticket that allows cancellation up to a couple of months before at a more reasonable price.

Two long-haul legs of the itinerary dominate the flight costs. We're currently thinking of using Emirates, but there are literally scores of airlines offering similarly priced alternatives via different hubs, so information on any major airline with long-haul routes between Western Europe and East or South-East Asia is potentially valuable.

  • As far as I can tell, Emirates has several fare classes that are refundable (minus a "refund fee") so long as you cancel before the trip begins. In particular, the "Economy Flex" fare has a £100 cancellation fee, which isn't minuscule but is better than losing £800–1000. Feb 11, 2019 at 17:47
  • 3
    I've seen similar questions around here, usually in the context of getting a visa. The usual advice is "buy a flex ticket now; once the visa is granted cancel that ticket and buy a cheaper ticket with fixed dates". Maybe that's an option for your friend, too?
    – Sabine
    Feb 11, 2019 at 18:41
  • That is a splendid idea, @Sabine. Thank you. Feb 11, 2019 at 19:32
  • Check that you actually need the ticket to apply for a visa. Sensible countries don't require it, because the "trick" @Sabine mentions makes it pointless and it's harmful to people who don't know that trick. Alas, not all countries are sensible... Feb 11, 2019 at 21:45
  • 1
    Note to close voters: this question isn't asking us to construct an itinerary. It seems on-topic to me. Feb 11, 2019 at 21:46

1 Answer 1


You have a bunch of options:

Just book it now and pay a change fee of you have to rebook. You'd have to pay the change fee plus any fare difference between new and original flight. Some airlines will let you keep the original price minus the change fee as credit for future bookings.

Most airlines offer "flex" tickets, which waive any change fee if you rebook a flight. The cost adder for those is all over the place: I've seen it for as little 10% to triple or quadruple the price for a non-flex ticket. You need to check your specific itineraries. Buying a flex ticket with an incremental cost of more than the change fee, doesn't make sense. Even if the change is waived you are still responsible for any fare differences between the new flight and the original one. That goes both ways, though: if your new flight is cheaper you actually get money back.

Just wait it out: Typically flight prices don't go up that much unless your are travelling during peak season or a major holiday. You could all book now and then when the last member of your group is ready to pull the trigger, book a matching itinerary then. It's unlikely that prices will rise more than the change fees. You can also keep monitoring prices and make the call once you see seat availability going down or prices going up.

  • Thanks, though rebooking isn't really relevant here. The holiday is going ahead on the planned dates as it was overwhelmingly the best date for everyone else. If my friend's conference dates clash, he'll want to cancel not change the flights to another day. But waiting it out might be the best course. Feb 11, 2019 at 18:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .