MileValue is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Note: Some of the offers mentioned below may have changed or are no longer be available. You can view current offers here.


A few months ago I bought a ticket to the Chicago Seminars frequent-flier conference. I immediately booked my flights from LAX to Chicago.

On the way there, I went with a direct flight to Midway, so I could have easy access to the city for a night with friends before the conference.

On the return, I went with a Virgin America flight from O’Hare. Not only is the conference right next to O’Hare, but Virgin America has a better coach product than American or United.

At the time of booking, I snagged a good front aisle seat, 5D. I put the reservation out of my mind–until I got an email from Award Wallet telling me about a change to my reservation.

The change was the most minor change I’ve ever been made aware of–my seat was changed from 5D to 12D.

But I figured, I would slightly like to cancel this and rebook on American. The price was $8 less on American–$141–than I paid originally plus I had free gift certificates on American plus I’d rather earn AAdvantage miles than Elevate miles.

So I called Virgin America, and I informed the agent I would like to cancel.

I said that when I booked I had decided the flight was worth the money with such a great seat being a deciding factor. Now that my seat had been changed and the value proposition worsened, I wanted to cancel. I explained that I thought Virgin America had changed the rules of the game after I had put up my money. I said I felt like Virgin America was taking advantage of me.

(To be clear, I do not think I had a valid reason to cancel my ticket without incurring the cancellation fee, but I wanted to see if I could talk them out of charging me the fee.)

The agent explained that this was not a valid reason for a free cancellation. She said she could cancel the ticket for a $100 fee. Or I could go online and cancel for a $75 fee.

I couldn’t overcome the resistance, so I asked to speak to a supervisor.

I was connected without objection or delay. The supervisor seemed to understand my complaint already because I barely opened my mouth when she said that she would cancel my flight without a fee “as a one-time courtesy.”

I WON! Or did I?

The $149 I had spent would be deposited into my Virgin America travel bank, which means I would have one year to spend the money on Virgin America flights.

Although Virgin America seems to be a great airline with one of its hubs in my home town (SFO is the other), I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll fly Virgin America in the next year.

I trotted out all my same arguments to the supervisor that not only should the cancellation be free, but the $149 should be refunded to my credit card.

She wouldn’t budge.

In the end, since I don’t want want a $149 gift certificate to Virgin America at all, I kept the reservation in tact.

Recap

Award Wallet constantly monitors the reservations it knows about. It picks up minor changes and will send you an email about them.

You can cancel a non-refundable reservation on any airline if they make the slightest change. If the agent hassles you, politely ask for a supervisor.

You’ll usually hear from the supervisor that the fee is waived as one-time courtesy. Thank them for the courtesy, but expect to be offered the courtesy whenever any minor changes are made.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.