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Travel Dilemmas: A Fairer Approach to Ticket Changes

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By Catharine Hamm

That’s in line with a report released Monday by the National Consumers League, a Washington, D.C., consumer advocacy group whose study, “$tuff Happens: Airlines Benefit Handsomely From the Unexpected … and Consumers’ Fears About It,” suggests a “tiered cancellation/change fee pricing model based on the proximity of the travel date.”

Absent that, you might be tempted to consider travel insurance to offset those change fees.

You may have noticed that at the end of the online booking process, you’re often given a chance to buy travel insurance. On Orbitz, for instance, as you’re lining up your ticket, up pops this message: “Highly Recommended: Select Trip Coverage.” It gives the option of adding “trip protection” for $21. Among the top three reasons to invest in travel insurance: You can “get reimbursed up to 100 percent if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for reasons like illness, injury, layoff and more.”

There’s a “learn more” link right above the choice that says, “No, I choose not to protect my purchase,” which sort of strikes me like saying, “No, I choose not to protect my children so I will not fence in my yard.”

In the case of a ticket, though, choosing not to protect your purchase might be the smart choice.

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