Airline frequent flyer fee chart

Airfarewatchdog.com

Frequent flyer tickets are supposed to be free, right? Well, not exactly. Airlines are socking it to passengers with all kinds of fees and penalties that take some of the joy out of redeeming an award ticket.

For example, American can kill customers with fees. Imagine this scenario: you book a frequent flyer ticket at the last minute using a reservations phone agent ($75+$25), then have to change the date of travel ($150), but ultimately can't make the trip (illness, death in the family, whatever $150): your total fees (assuming you want to redeposit the miles for future use) will be $400 without even leaving the ground!

In this same scenario, Delta won't charge you a last-minute booking fee, but if you want to change or cancel that ticket within 72 hours of travel you forfeit the miles altogether. No chance to use them again.

Note that since the four remaining "legacy" airlines (US, DL, AA, and UA) have recently upped their domestic fare change fee from $150 to $200, we wouldn't be surprised to see frequent flyer change fees to be increased as well. As of this writing, that hasn't happened (it's still $150).

Remember agents all seem to have different interpretations of the rules and fees so it never hurts to hang up and call back to see if another agent has a cheaper fee or allows you to change something for free. But, one thing is for sure, traveling for free these days ain't what it used to be!

One popular workaround is that if there is a schedule change to your flight (with Delta, they seem to jigger their timetable almost every other month), you may be able to change your ticket without a fee. Typically, if the airline changes the times of your flight (even by a few minutes), it can put connections in jeopardy or make it less likely for checked bags to make it to the final destination. So it pays to keep checking your reservation to see if you may be able to get a change for free.

Keep in mind, too, that depending on your frequent flyer membership level, some of these fees may not apply to you, or they may be lower than shown. Updated May 4, 2013.

Airline

"Last minute" ticketing

Ticket issued by phone or in person

Date/itinerary change

Redepositing miles/points

Same day change fee (confirmed travel)

Air Tran

$0

$15

one free change allowed, additional changes cost $75

$75

$25

Alaska

$0

$15 (for Alaska flights); $25 (for partner flights)

$75 if made online; $100 if made via phone agent

$100$75 if made online; $100 if made via phone agent

$25 (only if same award seat is available within six hours of flight)

American

Travel ticketed 21 20 days or less incurs $75 charge

$25 by phone/$35 in person

$150 (MileSAAver Award tickets for which the only confirmed change is to the date and/or time will not incur the change fee)

$150 (all additional award tickets returning to same account at same time are $25 each)

$75 (free if award seats are available in the same category)

Delta

$0

$25

$150 (no changes/cancelations are permitted within 72 hours of departure; all miles forfeited)

$150 (no changes/cancelations are permitted within 72 hours of departure)

$50

Frontier

$0

$0

$50 (if changes are made within 7 days before departure, otherwise free)

$50

$50

JetBlue

$0

$20

$50-100

$50-100

$50

Spirit

$0

$25+$0 (booked 180 days before departure)-$100 booking fee

$110 (not permitted within 24 hours of departure)

$110 (not permitted within 24 hours of departure)

$25 (only for an earlier flight)

Southwest

$0

$0

$0

$0

Depends on type of award and possible point difference if using new award system

United

$75 if booked within 21 days of departure

$25

$0-$75 (depends on if origin/connecting city/destination changes and if the change is made within 21 days of departure)

$150

$75

US Airways

$75 if ticketed 21 days or less

$30 for domestic travel/$40 for international travel+

$25-50 award processing fee

$150

$150

$75

Virgin America

$0

$20 (phone)

$75-100

$75-100

$25-50

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