CLEVELAND - Airline tickets are one of those unique items that usually can't be refunded. Some airlines are even increasing the fee to cancel or change a reservation. There are steps you can take to avoid a costly penalty.
When you book a ticket, you have 24 hours to change your mind. You can cancel or change your flight for free as long as you booked seven days in advance. It's a new rule that may offer you some protection. You have other options as well.
David Nauer looks forward to his family reunion every four years to catch up with his relatives. He booked airline tickets months in advance to grab the best price for his July 2012 trip. Months later, Nauer got a medical diagnosis he wasn't expecting.
"I found out I had squamous cell cancer," Nauer explained. The cancer treatments took their toll and doctors advised against traveling.
"I had 30 radiation treatments and 3 or 4 chemotherapy treatments. My kidneys shut down," Nauer explained.
Discount carrier, Allegiant, told Nauer if he paid a cancelation fee they'd allow him to reschedule his flight for travel up to a year from purchase. Once Nauer was medically cleared to travel, he couldn't book his flight.
"Allegiant Air doesn't fly to Myrtle Beach in October and November," Nauer said.
His other option was Florida.
"We don't know nobody in Florida," Nauer explained.
Allegiant denied his request to extend the ticket beyond a year.
Robert Ross of AAA said travel agents can advise you of these risks.
"Is it better to compromise on cost in some instances and take an airline that won't provide service everywhere or in some instances should they pay a little more knowing that they have a variety of choices to choose from?" Ross said.
Travel insurance is another option for travelers. The policies vary so read the fine print, but typically you get trip cancelation for medical reasons. It's an almost $400 dollar lesson for Nauer.
We contacted Allegiant and the airline said its rule is that tickets are only valid for one year from purchase. It is not your travel date.