Actually, sorry – that doesn’t work for me…

Did you know you can actually fix many ticket spelling mistakes, even if an airline says you can’t? It’s true, and there are so many things airlines don’t tell you that you can do, which you totally can.

Sometimes it feels as if airlines hold all the cards, leaving travellers at the wrong end of every single travel experience. But if you pay close attention, you may soon find that there are options, there are outlets and hopefully, great solutions too, which may even be news to the person they’ve put in front of you at the airport. Here are five airline rules or concepts, which may be infinitely helpful on your next trip…

500 Mile Re-Route Rule

For some airlines this is a rule, while for others it’s a customer service guideline you may have to politely argue to attain. The “500 mile” rule is your friend when an airline changes or cancels your reservation in any way. A perfect example would be a schedule change, ideally over 30 minutes.

If an airline changes a flight to an earlier or later time, you can argue that this no longer works for you, and request to be re routed, or depart from a different location within 500 miles. If you scored a deal from a nearby city, or would rather add an extra city to your trip this can work brilliantly. After all, it’s their fault. This works all around the world. The key: be persuasive.

Example: You live in London, bought scored an amazing deal from Paris to Bangkok. The airline then changed the time of your flight back to Paris, after you booked. You could argue that the new timing does not work, and therefore they should change your ticket to London as the final destination. London is within 500 miles of Paris, hence the 500 mile rule.

Interline Baggage Agreement

Even airlines which aren’t partners in any forward facing “public” way often have hidden passenger friendly agreements. These agreements allow passengers to check in for a flight on one airline, and have their bags automatically transferred to future flights on other airlines. Some airlines even allow this on separately booked itineraries.

This can be a game changer when traveling in places where you can stay airside, rather than needing to clear immigration, grab your bags, re check them and then re clear immigration. A great way to start is by googling “interline agreements” for your initial airline. Politely ask at the check in desk if your bags can be interlined, with your onward itinerary confirmation handy.

Example: Emirates and Qatar are not forward facing airline partners, but they do have an interline agreement. In theory, someone flying to Bangkok on Qatar on one itinerary could have their bags interlined onto a separately booked Emirates flight out of Bangkok, with no stress or hassle.

Airline Ticket Transfer For Cancelled Flights

Airlines don’t often want to do this, but in a pinch, an informed traveler would be crazy not to enquire. And in some regions like Europe, airlines must obey. If an airline cancels a flight for any reason, and you find an alternative flight on another airline in the same cabin class, you can ask the original airline to endorse your ticket over to the other flight on an alternate airline.

Even if the airlines aren’t specifically partners, or actually seem like enemies, they may likely have an agreement which allows them to send passengers onto each others flights. This is a game changer as a passenger. If your flight is cancelled, simply check for available flights on other airlines, see if there are any available tickets online and quickly find an agent and politely beg them to endorse your ticket over.

Example: American Airlines and Delta are certainly not partners. But in a pinch, American Airlines could endorse your ticket over to Delta, getting you to your destination on time or very close, even if American Airlines is all cancelled for the day. These endorsements are first come first serve and subject to tickets being available, so act fast.

24 Hour Risk Free Cancellation

This is simple and it’s very, very effective. It now also works in more and more areas around the world, with a growing list of airlines. Though some policies are even more friendly, any ticket which touches the United States (even just connecting) is entitled to a 24 hour risk free cancellation period, so long as it’s booked 7 days in advance or more.

Translation: you never have to miss out on a flight deal because you’re not sure you can use it. Any ticket can be cancelled within 24 hours, with no penalty and the payment will be refunded to the initial source. This is massive when a flash sale comes around, knowing you can get in before the deal is gone, but if dates prove too difficult, you can cancel with ease.

Example: If an airline offers a crazy flash sale, with $450 round trip business class tickets to Australia from North America, you want to get in on that quickly. Even if you can’t get in touch with your boss in the next five minutes, before the deal goes away, you can just book, knowing you can cancel risk free. And here’s how to find these crazy deals in the first place!

Denied Boarding Compensation In Cash

If an airline needs to bump someone, and no one takes the voucher bait – someone is entitled to cash – not vouchers, particularly in the USA where you can get up to 4x the cost of your fare. Airlines have a unique knack for not making this abundantly clear to passengers who are inconvenienced.

In almost any part of the world, airlines must make it clear – like printed sheet of paper clear- that a passenger who has been involuntarily left off a flight is entitled to cash and explain what else they are owed. The cash value is calculated by a multiple of the one way fare cost, up to a certain amount. The airline may make a “sweeter” offer in vouchers, perhaps up to 10x more – but it’s good to know that cold hard cash is on the table.

Sometimes taking the bump is totally worth it, like when they offer $10,000 in vouchers for taking a flight just a few hours later!

Example: You’re scheduled to fly from Chicago to New York, you checked in on time, were at the gate on time and you’ve been bumped without accepting an offer to get bumped. You can take an airline voucher offer, but you can also demand cash. The airline must compensate you a certain amount required by law in cash, if that’s the compensation route you choose. And yep, you still get to go on the next flight.

Have you put any of these airline rules to use?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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12 Comments

  1. Southwest does not endorse tickets with any other airline. Check your facts before posting. A simple google search would’ve revealed this.

  2. This is my first look at this site. I have a tendency to discredit information when the writer can’t use there, their, and they’re correctly. There are also several other blatant spelling mistakes. Is the information you’re giving better than your spelling? Who’s editing these articles?

    1. Joanne, Your comment struck me. In response, I went through the article with a fine toothed comb and did not find a single – single spelling error. If you can find one for me, I will apologize. If you can’t – I politely request that you apologize.

    2. Your obsessive need for perfect grammar and spelling in free content online written by people who are likely not professional journalists or manuscript editor is laughable. This is a site that can help you save money on traveling, among other things. You have clearly missed the point of this site, so you might as well move along. Maybe go enjoy a piece of nice chocolate cake down the street from you and relax, but remember to try to focus on the delicious chocolate cake and not the scratches on the glass display case that have totally marred your entire experience, LOL.

  3. Southwest was never mentioned specifically and the writer said “Even if airlines aren’t specifically partners, or actually seem like enemies, they may likely have an agreement which allows them to send passengers onto each others flights.” “Likely have an agreement” I interpret as a possibility not a guarantee.

    1. Great point, I read the section the same way you did. Why there is such a level of spite among people who comment online bewilders me.

  4. Jeez. People are rough on you. I somehow managed to read the article.

    I had my Turkish business class flight from Houston to Istanbul delayed so I’d miss my connection to my final destination. I stood firm that I needed to get there (and couldn’t stay overnight in Istanbul and connect the next day) as I had meetings and they immediately put me on Emirates from Istanbul in business class to my final destination via UAE. On the other hand when I was in Turkish coach, they caused me to miss my connection to my United flight back home and insisted they could only put me on the same flight the next day on United. Despite knowing otherwise I gave up since I’d already had to wait over an hour in line at the Turkish desk plus arguing over who was responsible for rebooking. They also said (even though it was one ticket/reservation) that since I missed a UNITED flight I had to get United to figure out the re-route, even though Turkish caused the missed connection. It was not a good discussion and I was exhausted already. I knew better and could see another flight to US via Chicago that would have gotten me home no problem leaving in a few hours but they just wouldn’t do it. Ah well.

  5. Isn’t this the US-centered?
    Specefically, does 24 hours free cancel apply to all airlines? I don’t think so.

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