Last year I wrote an article called The Power of Asking, which is still one of my all-time most popular posts. I gave examples of how we have received thousands of dollars’ worth of free stuff (and partially eaten hamburgers) as a result of simply asking.
There have been several things we’ve asked for just this month that will save us well over a thousand dollars. I will discuss in order of awesomeness.
It is possible to waive flight change fees
We are meeting my parents, my 3 siblings, and my 9 nephews and nieces in Yellowstone next week for a family reunion. I am super excited. Ping pong with the bros, my kids get to play with their cousins, late nights laughing about all the stuff we used to get away with, and food! I’ll be done with my 30 day no-sugar diet and ready to eat my mom’s amazing home cookin!
Because of scheduling conflicts, we had booked our flights to come home one day earlier than the rest of the family. I was bummed not to get the extra day since we are traveling all the way across the country. But due to a change of plans, our schedule was freed up. The only problem is that United charges a $200 flight change fee per person, and there are 5 of those in this family.
We’re talking ONE THOUSAND dollars, just to change a flight. Generally I fly Southwest, which makes it so easy to change flights, so the fact that United wanted me to pay ONE LARGE just to move the flight really irritated me. I scoured the web to see if anyone else had successfully gotten one of these other airlines to waive flight change fees.
After a while of searching, it seemed like the answer was a general resounding no. Airlines might give exceptions for things like funerals or death-bed sickness, but I was not very encouraged. Nevertheless, I dialed up the old United Airlines customer service hotline.
The customer service rep answered, and I tried to sound as friendly as possible. I told him that the 5 of us were booked to return at 5:50am on a Tuesday but that we actually wanted to come home at 5:50am Wednesday. I told him I knew there was a change fee associated with this and asked if there was any way to waive it.
He repeated my question to me to make sure he understood what I was asking, and he told me that he’d see what he could do. Hey, I’ll take it! I was probably on hold for 7 or 8 minutes during which time I literally said a prayer.
He came back on and said that he would grant me a one-time courtesy waiver of the change fee and that in the future I would have to pay. What!? What a total surprise! The internet said it couldn’t be done, but I just did it…for 5 people! And I didn’t even have to fight or ask twice!
I don’t think it’s common, but at least I know it’s possible. So what is the secret? I really have no idea, but here are a few of my best guesses.
How to (try to) get your flight changed for free
- Get a friendly rep – Had I not, I probably would have called back until I got an answer from somebody who sounded like they didn’t hate their life.
- Flight time – I really doubt that they would have waived the fee if I were trying to fly home on a Friday at 6pm. I imagine there is much less demand for Wednesday at 5:50am flights.
- Ambiguity – I didn’t come out and say that we accidentally booked our flight on a Tuesday at 5:50am rather than Wednesday, but I didn’t do anything to stop him from making that assumption. Usually if you do make a mistake like this and catch it within 24 hours, they will waive the fee. But we had booked the flights weeks ago.
- Kindness – I was as polite and friendly.
- Getting ahead of objections – I acknowledged the change fee before he could tell me no .
- Prayer – Seeking for higher power will never hurt.
So there you go. It is possible to have your nonSouthwest flight change fees waived. The stars might have to be perfectly aligned, but I’m proof that it can happen…times 5.
Free little person soccer
Similar to how we asked for and got free cello lessons, we finally thought to ask our homeschool partnership if they would cover our soccer season fees that we’ve purchased for several seasons now. (We are part of a county home school partnership that pays for some community classes.) The lady sent back an email saying that would be fine. Send me my refund baby!!
We recently had to get a prescription filled, but insurance only covered a certain quantity over a 30 day period, which would not be sufficient. We read online that buying the extra quantity out of pocket would likely cost hundreds of dollars and that many people had faced a similar problem. Amanda talked to the pharmacist, and she actually turned out to be very helpful and is in the process of working with the doctor and the insurance company to see if she can hook us up. I think it will come through.
I have not gone out to eat much this month due to my temporarily restrictive diet. But the first time I did, I asked them if they would replace the rice and beans with salad & avocado for the same price. The avocado is usually extra, and those things are not cheap. No problem. Done!
Food is one of the easiest things to get for free. A little bit of small talk and courtesy go a long way for someone who is used to dealing with impersonal or even rude people all day. Just the other day at my work cafeteria I smiled and said “How’s it going Susan?” She lit right up and piled on those side dishes. Everyone comes away feeling better from interactions like that.
As you can see, simply asking can yield you a whole spectrum of benefits, from the substantial to the simple.
One of my readers turned me on to a book called The Aladdin Factor. It talks about this very thing and teaches everything you’d ever want to know about the right way to ask for something.
How has asking been going for you? Have you ever gotten your change flight fees waived?