Monday, April 2, 2007

James 4 - is it Christian to buy nonrefundable airline tickets?

I don't post about it much, but it seems that much of my life over the last couple of months has revolved around James 4:13-14. (See my previous post here).

Well, for personal reasons, I just had to cancel some airline tickets.

Some nonrefundable airline tickets.

This can be costly:

Most airlines charge a $100 fee for changing the date or destination of a nonrefundable domestic ticket. Exceptions: AirTran $60, Spirit $50, Delta $50 (on most tickets), JetBlue $25-$30....

Penalties for changing nonrefundable international tickets are higher, usually either $200 or $250. And the deadlines are often tougher. Delta, for example, requires that you cancel, rebook and have a ticket reissued 24 hours before departure.

I need to cancel my tickets because of an illness in the family, but it turns out that nonrefundable tickets are nonrefundable no matter what:

After we made our final payment to TraveLearn in August, we received additional information on Kenya and the suggestion that we check the Web site We did this Aug. 28. The travel warning urged us to consider the risks of possible terrorist attacks, including suicide operations, bombings, kidnapping, attacks on aviation and indiscriminate attacks on U.S. citizens....

We found this chilling. It certainly dampened our enthusiasm for this long-dreamed-of trip. We canceled the trip and got an immediate refund of the amount we had paid TraveLearn. The airline, however, has been a different story. After much discussion with the airline, our travel agent got it to agree that we could reschedule an international trip before the end of this year and apply $2,480 of what we had paid toward this trip. Pretty good deal for the airline, we think.

On Sept. 22, our travel agent contacted the airline to get this offer in writing. It did a complete reversal: Either we take the Kenya trip or forfeit $3,440.

But nonrefundable tickets are, in the aggregate, still the preferred method. Here's something from a U.S. Navy website.

Most airlines have recently changed their policy regarding non-refundable tickets ( ). If the ticket is not used by the intended date, the ticket is no longer valid. Some contractors have asked whether they should routinely purchase the more expensive refundable tickets. After consulting with DCAA, we have determined that, if a contractor employee makes every effort to make the flight or to reschedule prior to departure, but cannot do so for some good reason, we will agree that the cost of the non-refundable ticket (although unused) was allowable and reasonable. This is highly preferable to the alternative of buying refundable tickets at the much higher price.

Of course, if you don't buy that many airline tickets, the cost of cancelling one nonrefundable ticket can be staggering.


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