Non-refundable airline tickets can be a really bad deal

I recently canceled some airline reservations for a trip that was many months away and found to my dismay that the tickets were nonrefundable! Did I ever feel stupid!

I had been holding reservations on American Airlines, which does refunds, and had switched to AirTran Airways to fly with a family group. This was a huge mistake on my part!

AirTran Airways has adopted the wonderfully profitable business strategy of making their coach tickets nonrefundable. Even if you cancel your reservations months before your scheduled flight, your tickets are nonrefundable.

Being the bighearted corporation that they are, the remaining balance will be placed in a credit file, which may be used for future bookings for up to one year from the date of the original booking. If you don’t use it by then, you lose it.

They have already sold your original seat to someone else and then they get to keep the money. Doesn’t that sound like a business we would all like to run? Getting something for nothing! Wow!

I could see a rationale for a cancellation charge, but this business model frankly smacks of really sharp business practice and let the customer be damned. The only recourse is for consumers to communicate how bad a deal this is and use other airlines whenever possible.

I can see nonrefundable tickets as a viable solution only for trips you are going to take in the next 30 days and you can afford to throw away the money if you change your mind.

When you book a trip many months in the future, there are so many things that can come to pass it makes little sense to buy a nonrefundable ticket.

Incidentally, my refundable tickets on American Airlines were only $60 more than the nonrefundable AirTran tickets. I saved $120 and it only cost me $855! What a "bargain"!

If you are considering flying with Airtran, just be aware that you will not get your money back if your trip is canceled.

You might want to choose a carrier like American that will accommodate you with a refund if you cancel the trip well in advance.

I would not recommend AirTran Airways.

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