When Bono falls off a bike in central park canceling all of the dates for the tour that you just cashed in your miles to see, you are forced to make a difficult decision. Kick Bono's ass or cancel/change the ticket you booked using miles to get there. Since Bono is seemingly already in quite a lot of pain we choose to deal with the flights. Canceling a "free flight" award ticket can be quick and painless or long and painful with additional financial and timing implications. Before you get too scared, don't worry, for the most part changing or canceling an award ticket is far cheaper than a paid ticket and since you didn't outlay cash in the beginning, there is somewhat less to lose. Here's a guide to changing or canceling reservations with most carriers worth flying...

Cancelation VS Change in USD...

In life, timing is everything and changing or canceling an award ticket is no exception. As a general rule of thumb you run major risk canceling anything within 24 hours of departure and in the event that this happens, you could very easily lose out on any taxes and fees paid, plus ALL your precious miles used to book the ticket. If life throws changes at you, put time on your side by making the move as far out from the flight date as possible. If your changes are made greater than 21 or 60 days in advance, American and Alaska will even respectively comp the change or cancelation fees.

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Continuing life's lessons, it's all about execution, not just ideas. The most sure fire way to execute the cancelation of an award ticket is generally a phone call. Though many airlines allow you to do so online, navigating to the "cancel" or "change" options on the site can be far more complicated than dialing a few numbers. Additionally, if you believe you have a compelling case for a waiver or need to make a complicated change; a real live person will be far more useful than a computer. As my spiffy chart references, you are likely looking at some fee in most cases, but many aren't all that bad. British Airways is a unique example where the change fee is $55, but if you paid less than that in taxes you simply forfeit the taxes. I recently needed to change a reservation that used 4,500 Avios (British Airways miles) and only $4.50 in taxes and fees. Rather than get nailed with a $55 fee I simply lost out on the $4.50. A much more palatable number.

Each program has it's caveats, but following this fee guide while being mindful of making any changes or cancelations as early as possible will lead to best practices without having to dig through too much research or red tape. Thank goodness Bono is back in action and rocking cities on a nightly basis.