Among the most-frequent customer service issues submitted using Comnio are issues involving airline tickets. Customers purchase their flight tickets, and when they want to change something about it (flight date, departure time, etc.) they are confronted with high (sometimes outrageous) fees that often catch them by surprise. As soon as these customers (now, our users) contact the airline’s customer service team, they are usually immediately referred to the airline’s Terms and Conditions. In every airline customer service situation, we also start by referencing the airline’s terms and conditions, which always mention some sort of policy on ticket exchanges, cancellations and/or name changes.

When was the last time you read the terms and conditions for anything you bought online? Most consumers never read the terms and conditions, so when they’re referred to the airline’s terms and conditions (to which they technically agreed) they are quite dissatisfied and reach out to us for help.

When you purchase a plane ticket from almost any airline, you usually have to indicate that you have indeed read the Terms and Conditions and by purchasing the airline tickets, you hereby agree to them. Even though those documents are often complicated (not to mention, quite long) we strongly suggest you give them at least a quick look before you purchase anything from them.

Would you sign a contract with your bank without reading it? Unlikely, since you know those documents give you several rights and duties, while limiting others.

Airlines create the terms and conditions to not only protect the airline, but also to protect you, as a customer. They also outline your rights (or lack thereof) in certain situations, including (but not limited to) when you need to exchange or cancel a flight reservation.

For example: If the airline’s terms and conditions state that cancellations cost $1,000, and your ticket cost only $100, it’s probably not a good idea to buy that airline ticket. In many cases there are different terms and conditions based on the fare (i.e. buying a cheap ticket vs. buying a ticket that allows for changes). Also, be careful when buying your ticket from an online booking service, which most often only sell the “cheapest airline tickets.” Sometimes these airline booking services have “minimum” fees for things the airlines may not even charge for, so we suggest you always find the terms and conditions (or the “regulations”) and search for the word “fee” before buying an airline ticket online.

Regardless of what the terms and conditions state, for ticket exchanges and changes you typically must pay an administrative fee plus the difference in fare (because ticket prices fluctuate based on demand, day of the week, days until the flight, etc.). So, even though you’re looking for the best deal, it may be in your best interest to know what you’re getting into before you buy your ticket.

Now you know, and as a popular cartoon says, “Knowing is half the battle!”

Written by Miguel Rueben, Customer Service Concierge with Comnio.