General Question

lucky's avatar

How to buy a cheap open ended or flexible airline ticket?

Asked by lucky (20points) August 11th, 2007

We are in need of tickets to visit an ill family member from SFO, Oakland to Richmond, VA. On an intermittent basis. Does anyone have recommendations on getting a reasonably priced ticket that we can use at a moments notice and change dates as needed? Thank you!

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9 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Not the best suggestion, but maybe find a sympathetic airline employee to sell you a "buddy" pass (at least that's what Frontier calls them). That'll let you fly standby for around $50 (or possibly $50 per leg). The catch, of course, is that if the flight is full, you'll have to wait for the next open flight.

gailcalled's avatar

Some airllines used to have last-minute "hardship" tickets for a death or serious illness in family. Maybe there is an official ombudsman, w. more clout than a sympathetic employee, that you can talk to. Of course, airlines are MUCH less user-friendly than they used to be, but it can't hurt to try. Is price more important than convenience? I hope not..And do you need this for more than one person? That also complicates the issue.

kevbo's avatar

Just to clarify, the buddy pass in the case of Frontier falls more in the category of employee benefit, so the employee is able to issue these more or less at will to friends and family. Clout doesn't really factor into the process.

I guess I should add that the *employee* is able to purchase them for $50, and then it would be up to you and the employee to negotiate your price.

lucky's avatar

Thank you very much for your suggestions! I would be happy to hear more suggestions! I will try to find someone willing to give a buddy pass or an ombudsman. Thank you.

zina's avatar

this is a good question, and i'm sure many of us would like to know the answer. just in case you don't know these, for low-cost tickets (not necessarily open-dates/flexible, but maybe good last-minute), search,, with be in sf soon too i think (a european low-cost airline). perhaps you can inquire about their date-change options on whatever company has the cheapest flight. i think southwest is good - if you book a flight, you can just keep changing it at no cost (if the future one is the same/cheaper than the one you have). maybe that's a way to do it?

occ's avatar

You can buy a JetBlue Ticket for a specific date, and you can change any jetblue ticket for a nominal fee (I think 25 or 50). However, if the ticket price for that same flight has gone up, you will have to pay more. I second Zina's suggestion about Southwest, although I'm not sure they fly to Virginia. Check out their "refundable anytime" fares. They are pretty reasonable. You can call a Southwest agent and I bet they will be pretty helpful in talking you through and figuring out the best option for you. Teh other mainstream airlines charge a fortune to change tickets--I actually find that the discount airlines are better on this one...

andrew's avatar

I third the Southwest option... I used to fly SF to LA bi-monthly (semi-monthly?), and Sotuhwest didn't charge to change any part of my ticket -- no matter what the price or type of ticket it was (you have to pay the fare difference if there is one, but there's no change fee). Also, they consistently had the best last-minute rates -- especailly if I'd book a couple days in advance.

Smartman's avatar

Sometimes we will be charged for changing date and pay more if your seat class sold out and you have to upgrade your seat. I have just bought a cheap airline tickets from and they inform me the same condition like that.

chelle21689's avatar

I go to I always use travelocity though because whenever I compare prices it tends to be the site I find with the cheapest prices. I usually buy the tickets for me to travel on a Wednesday because it’s cheaper too. I play around with the dates to see what prices I can get. Sometimes I go on too look at the farecast… if it says to WAIT and has a HIGH confidence percentage I wait and monitor prices closely to see if they drop the next day and buy.

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