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I had booked a ticket with Expedia for a relative going to saudi arabia from USA and I paid about $1k. My relative is there now and asked me to extend her trip by a month. When I called Expedia they said there is no value left in arrival ticket and it's better I book a new ticket. This seems very unethical to me. After cancelling ticket won't they sell it to someone for full price? Plus they have a change fee of $160. What good is that if return flight has no value? New ticket is around $800.

EDIT:

This is what Saudi Airlines terms:

-Flight Changes permitted with fee.
-Refunds/Reissue permitted with fee.
-No refund on No-Show.

So I believe its fair for me to expect some value with a fee. To say there is no value left is deceptive IMHO. Maybe this is industry practice but that doesn't make it right and I know not all airlines do this, for ex. Southwest.

  • 2
    Firstly, you need to include what grade of ticket it is (for example, budget economy on some airlines will always charge a fee when changing dates). Also, did you try contacting the airline the ticket is with? It may be that although Expedia appears to be the bad guy, in actuality the fine print of your ticket may state that changes will incur fees. – The Wandering Coder Feb 10 '17 at 7:23
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    "After cancelling ticket won't they sell it to someone for full price?" If they could do that, why did they sell it to you at a discount in the first place? – Calchas Feb 10 '17 at 8:41
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    "This seems very unethical to me". If you want ethics, fly in business or first class. – JonathanReez Feb 10 '17 at 9:26
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    @JonathanReez Only those who fly first class or business should expect ethical behavior? Seriously? – TastyCode Feb 10 '17 at 21:43
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    @JonathanReez that's not correct at all. Many (perhaps even most) business class and first-class tickets have restrictive conditions and require a fee to change dates and times also. – Andrew Ferrier Feb 10 '17 at 22:53
58

You misunderstand what a flight ticket is. You didn't rent seat 22A from city X to city Y, free to do with it as you like, absolutely not. What you have at hand is a contract between the airline and you which has certain conditions binding each party. The airline is bound to transfer you between certain points (edit: at a certain time) and for this you agreed to hand over some compensation. Breaking the contract has consequences, clearly outlined in the Terms And Conditions for both parties.

In other words, the reservation email contains the change and cancel conditions. What happens to what you think of as your seat is an entirely different matter and it's entirely the airline's business and not yours.

This might seem unfair to you but it in fact this system underpins the dynamic pricing applied by airlines that allows you to fly everywhere for ridiculously low prices, significantly lower than what it costed decades ago. You can read about the pricing here and please realize that if you were able to sell a lower priced ticket or somehow demand some of the profit of the airline when they sell "your seat" for a higher price it would completely ruin this schema.

Different conditions are available at different price points, you need to look at them before buying. Most people will indiscriminately purchase the lowest fare, not knowing what they are buying. But, there are fares where you can change the time of the flight. You might be surprised how expensive those are, however. You might need to just chalk up the loss to a lifetime of cheap flights.

Finally, it is possible that buying a new Saudi Arabia-USA return ticket and not flying the return leg is your cheapest option.

  • Did you mean for the italicized word in the last paragraph to be "round-trip"? – David Z Feb 11 '17 at 4:34
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    Aye. A one way ticket is likely to be more expensive – chx Feb 11 '17 at 5:34
  • @DavidZ Return ticket is the British equivalent of what is called Round-trip ticket in the U.S. and Canada. – AndyB Feb 12 '17 at 5:30
  • @AndyB Ah, that makes sense then. – David Z Feb 12 '17 at 5:34
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To share a personal anecdote, I was able to change date of a return two-leg flight by Etihad. I had to pay ~$150 for that privilege via online system. The ticket in question was $600.

I understand that large UAE carriers are much more flexible than the usual pseudo-monopoly flag carriers, but it doesn't hurt to try. Try contacting the airline to see what can they do for you.

  • Did you buy the Etihad flight via an online broker like Expedia (which appears to be the crux of the OP's problem)? – Mikey Feb 12 '17 at 3:13
  • @Mikey yes, but in this case it was tickets.ru (a subsidiary of Ukrainian company as far as I can tell). They had an interface where I could do the change in itinerary and pay for it. – alamar Feb 12 '17 at 4:27

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