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Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Fort Myers, Florida
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Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

My son I and plan to make a trip from Florida to England early next summer. We can settle on an outbound date, but can only make a wild guess at the return date. It all depends on family considerations not yet settled.

I do know that open returns are absurdly priced (way way more than $1000) so we need to chose a return date, a wild guess return date. And we will almost certainly have to change it later.

So my question is which airlines (or services like travelocity, expedia) are more reasonable than others when it comes to fee for change of date and new reservations? And, better, is there any way of finding out what the policies are short of booking (or almost booking but not paying for) the tickets in order to get access to the relevant parts of the terms and conditions?

Other people who are not rich must have faced this dilemma. How do they approach it? I know it would be cheaper to settle return dates months ahead, but it just isn't possible, doesn't suit our itinerary (which includes a lengthy drive across France).

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Personally, I would book a flexible return fare directly with the airline, and change the return date once it gets nearer and you have a better idea. Over estimate the return date (choose a date that you'd never exceed).

I strongly advise not using a third party, for reliability, security and cost reasons. Whatever you think you'll save, will quickly evaporate with admin costs, inconvenience and inflexible T&C.

You simply have to gauge your journey, and try limit the return change of date to just once.

kent
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2. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

If you buy a flight ticket from a 3rd party website, you will almost certainly be buying a non refundable fixed price ticket. You won't be able to change any dates. If your dates are uncertain you could either hold back booking or buy a fully flexible ticket.

I'd suggest signing up for the loyalty schemes of the major airlines flying that route. There are several advantages to this, including getting "sale alerts",earning loyalty points for any flight you do take, and getting direct notification of any flight alterations.

Buying directly from the airline will be the same price (if not cheaper) than buying through a third party.You may also want to consider buying a travel insurance policy which includes cancellation provision.

Fort Myers, Florida
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3. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Thank you, both who responded.

I would hate to discover, too late, that (purely hypothetical example) United charged $400 to change the ticket return date whereas Air France charged $150 or vice versa or something like that.

How does one best research this please? Anyone?

Loyalty schemes is a good thought though. Thank you.

Edited: 09 December 2013, 11:58
kent
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4. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Holly.... the price of changing a ticket will probably be made of 2 parts. One would be the admin fee. This this will vary from one airline to another, and be based on the class of travel, type of ticket ( fully flexible or not) and how close to the flight dates. The other part would be for any price increase that may have occured since the original flight was booked for.

So... if you bought your return ticket in an airline sale for a high demand period, and made a subsequent alteration close to departure or return dates, you could potentially see a steep hike in the end price. I once booked BA flights to St Lucia, and stupidly booked an incorrect return date, but because I contacted the airline within 24 hours, they accepted an alteration without any penalty.

Alterations made for low season periods should cost less. but don't expect an airline to pass on any savings for a reduced fare.

Lastly.. I don't mean to add to your woes, but if you are travelling in a peak season, you may find limited availability for your return date.. sorry!

For my twopence worth, I'd still suggest booking a fully flexible ticket as they are designed to be altered. Any potential alteration costs will be fully published in the T & C's. The air travel forum may be able to advise on the relative charges made by the different airlines.

Iowa
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5. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

When will your return date be settled?

I wouldn't worry as much about the change fee as I would the change in fare. The fare could go up hundreds or even a thousand dollars when you make the change.

As suggested, you could buy a flexible fare, which will cost much more than a non-changeable fare. Travel insurance is also a must.

Fort Myers, Florida
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6. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Thank you all.

I checked United, late May, 60 days, just as an example.

About $350 more per person for flexible fare as compared with cheapest.

I guess I can live with that. I'll have to :-)

A pity in a way that if we stay longer we are in a cheaper return date (October say) but paying more than the inflexible fare high season price. That is the penalty of not being able to plan ahead for the return half.

kent
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7. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Holly...painful though it is, it's better to pay the $350 now than have to pay even more at a later date.

If you haven't already booked your flights, I suggest holding back for a few weeks. Both British Airways and Vigin fly the Florida to UK routes, and usually have a sale immediately after Christmas. You can join their loyalty programmes for free and get sale alerts by email. Aer Lingus may also operate this route, so it's worth checking their prices too.

And..... if you are considering an October return date,it would be wise to avoid the last week in October. We have a school half term holiday in that week, and fares from the UK to Florida shoot up.

Trondheim, Norway
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8. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Icelandair sell one-way tickets without much mark-up AFAIK. And from July next year Norwegian will fly from Fort Lauderdale to London (twice weekly) and all their tickets are one-ways.

Edinburgh, United...
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9. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

Remember to check the conditions for the flexible fare. I don't know United's rule but on some airlines at least a flexible ticket does not mean you don't have to pay the fare difference which, as mentioned, may well make up the largest price increase. Really, there's no cheap way to settle on a return date at the last minute.

10. Re: Transatlantic (US<->UK), return date not settled

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