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Lufthansa's website currently says "All our fares are rebookable free of charge - Fare differentials might apply". See also this summary

I was looking to book a flight flying out in January 2021 with a return in November 2021. Since it is not possible to book a flight that far in advance, I thought of setting the return date to be in July 2021. I will then change the return date in 2021 to November when those bookings are possible. Unfortunately, I have to book the flight now due to bureaucracy that I won't go into and I cannot book two one-way flights.

How will the airline decide what the fare differential is when I make the date change? If fares are the same price or cheaper in November compared to July (which historically is true), will I get this date change for free or will the airline find a way that ends up making me pay a lot more?

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  • Note that the article you linked is from April, so probably not a good source for current information. Sep 25 '20 at 19:42
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    One thing to watch for is that there may be an expiration date on the ticket funds. You'd have to check LH's rule, but one common rule is "all flights must be complete by one year from date of original purchase". If so, then a ticket that you bought today could not be rebooked to a flight in November 2021. Sep 25 '20 at 19:43
  • @NateEldredge, thanks the second point is a good one - I did not know this. Regarding the first one, their website has the statement I posted in the question but the article was just a summary of the same. Sep 25 '20 at 19:55
  • Not an answer to your question, but possibly to the underlying problem: Try calling the service center, I haven't tried myself but heard from different sources that they are able to sell tickets further ahead than available on the website. A travel agency might also be able to get you such a ticket.
    – Sabine
    Sep 28 '20 at 6:48
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Check out general rules https://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/extended-rebooking-options

For new bookings, it says

For flights booked on or after August 25, all fares of the Lufthansa Group airlines worldwide can be rebooked free of charge (except for travel originating in Japan). This is part of your fare conditions, which you can view at any time. The departure and destination airports can also be changed.* If the rebooked fare is more expensive due to a change of route or a necessary change of travel or booking class, an additional charge may be necessary.

The key sentence here is

This is part of your fare conditions, which you can view at any time.

That means when you book the flight there will be a lot of fare conditions, rules, and fine print that you will need to agree to. This rules will spell out the details: how often you can rebook, to what degree you can change destinations, what happens for over/underpayments, departure and return time windows, etc. This may vary by ticket to ticket, so you may have to do some "almost" bookings and check the rules carefully when they are displayed.

Typically you can change the travel date until before the original departure date to any legal return date that's available at the time of rebooking. At this point the price for the new itinerary is calculated the same way as if you would buy the new ticket from scratch. Then they calcualted the difference between the new fare and the original one. If the new ticket is cheaper, you may get the difference back, keep it for future travel or the airline will just pocket it. Again, that depends on the fare rules for your specific ticket. However, in most cases the new ticket is more expensive and you have to pay the difference out of pocket.

There is no price protection whatsover, the new ticket can (and often will) be substantially more expensive than your original one. It's also quite possible that the price difference may be more expensive than just booking a full new ticket with another carrier.

If I were you, I'd wait until the November return date becomes available and then shop around for the best options for the entire trip.

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