On my last trip I had to change my flight itinerary, and I had to spend over an hour on the phone while the agent was finding a flight for us, informing its cost, and confirming with us.

The agent had to search several flights prices and spending near 15 minutes every search so the process was very slow.

Why I can't do this by myself? It would be easier so I could check by myself without waiting several minutes at phone?

  • 2
    I've changed bookings online before without any issue, I think it might be a Travel Agent and/or Airline issue rather than some general global problem
    – Gagravarr
    Jan 25, 2016 at 17:50
  • My experience is that some of the major airlines attempt to allow simple changes online, but whether it works or not is hit or miss. Basic round-trip domestic economy itineraries are often changeable online; complex multi-leg itineraries with codeshares and multiple carriers often don't work. Often this requires manual action by multiple airlines. The system will usually error out and tell you to call them in this case. Jul 5, 2016 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


Changing flights is a complex process that involves a lot of rules (differences in applicable fare classes, collecting additional fees or possibly issuing partial refunds, etc). Like any complex business process, it would cost a lot of money to develop an easy-to-use/intuitive web-based interface for it that any user (not a professionally trained ticketing agent) could use. The investment to build such a web application is simply not worth it for most airlines and travel sites. They make their money from ticket sales, not from ticket changes, so it's logical that this is where they would invest. Very few people will specifically prefer to buy from travel provider X only because travel provider X has an easy web-based way of changing tickets. And ticket change fees are usually high enough to more than justify the hourly rate of the ticketing agent manually changing the ticket over the phone. Having said all this, if you are a savvy traveler, you can speed up the manual process by doing your research ahead of time (find the exact flight you want to change to online, find out if it has the fare class you need, etc) - this way, it's a simple matter of telling the flight number and date to the phone agent.

  • I did that, I knew about the changes necessary for my flight but I had to search several flights because of price of changing the flight (the original flight I wanted only had seats in business class, but I couldn't afford that), but your answer makes sense, is just a matter of profit. Jan 25, 2016 at 17:56

First of all, some companies do allow changes online. E.g. American Airlines allow changes for domestic bookings. As for why not every airline supports online changes for every booking:

  1. Developing a web interface for ticket changes costs money, not to mention upkeep and support
  2. Airlines make most of their money on flights, not change fees
  3. People don't choose flights based on how easy it is to change the itinerary, so there's no incentive to compete in that area

So for now we're often stuck with calling the airline or simply cancelling the ticket and booking a new itinerary.

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