How I Negotiated $675 in Travel Fees With Two Phone Calls

Travel fees will kill any travel budget. Baggage fees, flight change fees, and rental car alternate location drop-off fees, hotel reservation cancellation fees, etc… All these fees add up quickly and make travel more expensive than it should be.

But sometimes your travel plans change and these fees just cannot be avoided. And what was supposed to be an enjoyable trip soon becomes a very expensive one. So what can you do so that travel fees don’t take up a huge chunk of your travel budget?

Start by making phone calls to the airline, hotel, and/or car rental company so that you can speak with someone directly about your unnecessary fees.


I recently saved myself $675 in travel fees with two phone calls that lasted no more than 30 minutes in total. Here’s how I did it:

Phone Call #1 With Airline Company

Situation: I needed to cancel the return flight for our family’s trip to Hawaii. The cancellation fee was $200 per ticket. For all four of us, that would be a cancellation fee of $800 to get the travel credit, which was approximately $1000. So, it would cost us $800 to get $1000 of travel credit (which makes absolutely no sense!).

Phone Call #2 With Car Rental Company

Situation: I needed to drop-off my rental car at the airport, instead of the neighborhood location where I picked the car up, because the neighborhood rental office didn’t open until two hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. Thus, I didn’t want to cut it too close to drop the car off, then take a taxi to the airport (roughly $30), and check-in. It would be a lot easier for me to drop the car off directly at the airport. The alternate location drop-off fee was $100.

Here’s the process I went through with both companies to get a total savings of $675:

  1. I called their customer service lines and explained my situations. They both proceeded to tell me it was their company policy to charge their respective fees, which would have been a total of $900 for me.
  2. I then asked to speak to their managers regarding my situation. The airline company allowed me to speak to the manager directly, while the representative at the car rental company checked with the manager on my behalf.
  3. Both came back with offers of cutting my fees in half. The original airline change fees (not including potential difference in value of tickets) of $800 were offered at $400 in total for all four of our tickets. The car rental company’s offer was $50 instead of $100 for the drop-off charge.
  4. I thanked both of them for their offers, but explained to them that even with the fees cut in half, the financial burden was too much for me to bear. I also explained how I’ve been a loyal, paying customer for both of their companies over the years. Finally, I asked them for more flexibility by waiving all the fees in its entirety.
  5. Both of them showed understanding and expressed gratitude to me for being their loyal customer, but both stood firm in their offers saying that it was all they…

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