All you need to know about unused tickets

By: Jessica Freedman

Don’t waste any more money on unused tickets. Find out all the tips and tricks to save big on airline ticket credits.

Unused tickets in business travel refer to airline tickets that haven’t been used due to a change in plans or other unforeseen circumstances. These airline tickets remain unutilized, costing companies big bucks. Some travel planners have even quoted having as much as $1M in unused tickets. 

This is why it’s crucial to understand unused tickets to minimize losses, explore options for ticket redemption and so that travel managers and small business owners can manage their travel plans effectively without losing money on tickets that are not utilized. We’ll delve into the world of unused tickets, how to manage them, how to maximize the value, and technology that can help with unused ticket management.

Understanding Unused Tickets

Unused tickets you say? Sounds like an easy concept, it’s just a ticket that you haven’t used. But what kind of ticket? And why would you let an airline ticket go to waste? In business travel, it’s normal for plans to change; meetings get canceled, rescheduled, or postponed. This is why understanding what goes into unused ticket management is so important. 

What is an unused ticket?

An unused ticket refers to an airline ticket that is non-refundable that a traveler has chosen not to use due to a change in plans. Instead of letting this money go to waste, there are rights for travelers. According to when you need to cancel a trip, you are usually entitled to at least a part of the ticket fare no matter the reason for canceling. Now let’s dig a little deeper…

Cost breakdown of plane tickets

To better understand what you will get back when you have a flight credit, you should be aware of the different elements that make up ticket fees. 

Base fare: the price charged by the airline for transportation
Processing and service fees: costs associated with issuing a flight ticket
Taxes and fees: airport fees, security, luggage costs and customs costs
Transaction fees: credit card and bank transfer fees
Fuel surcharges: Usually included in “taxes and fees”
Additional fees: luggage, upgrades, on-board services and additional meals

A flight ticket consists of three elements: the base fare, taxes and the fees. Airport taxes and fees, security taxes and duties fees and fuel surcharges should be refunded in full should you decide not to travel for whatever reason. 

When you cancel a trip, you are entitled to a refund of the taxes and fees, which can make up to 70% of the total ticket price. Depending on the airline, this can either be refunded or given back to you as a flight credit. This is where unused ticket management comes in handy, to make sure you don’t lose out on any of this money already spent on corporate flights. Since many people aren’t aware of their rights, it’s easy to let this money slide. 

The economic impact of unused tickets on businesses

Unused tickets can have negative economic implications for businesses, causing them to suffer losses, lower profitability, and eat into funds that were meant for business travel. This unnecessarily spikes your travel spend, when you could otherwise allocate these funds to other trips.

Unused airline ticket management

It’s a fact, sometimes business doesn’t go as planned. However, you need to be prepared with the right facts so that you know whether you’re entitled to a flight credit, a voucher or a full refund. Of course, one of the most important things you can do when reserving a flight is to check the terms and conditions of the fare you choose. In the case of business travel, when budget allows, it’s always a good idea to book more flexible fares. 

You can also use a travel management platform like GetGoing that can help you easily determine the fare conditions you are booking and whether they are refundable or changeable. Plus, you will be more easily able to track unused tickets in case you need to cancel at the last minute.

How do flight credits work?

In most cases, if you are given a flight credit, the airline gives you a strict window of time to use the credit, which is usually up to a year from the day of reservation. If the business traveler changes plans in less than 24 hours there is usually no problem. If on the other hand, you have to send someone else in their place, there is usually a penalty or fee for changing the name on the flight voucher. 

What’s the difference between a refundable and a non-refundable flight?

In the travel industry it’s very common to have two rates, the refundable and the non-refundable rate. Normally higher class tickets have more rights. More flexibility means you need to spend more money. In the long run, spending a little more gives you peace of mind that you’ll get a refund if something goes wrong. Your odds are usually better if you need to salvage the ticket, change the date or repurpose the ticket (fees may apply).

Refunds for taxes and fees depend on the country. In Germany, for example, you have up to three years to claim compensation. In the UK, it’s six years. Read more about flight refunds on the U.S Department of Transportation website.

How to use technology to reduce the losses due to unused tickets

It’s key to have a clear system in place to review unused ticket balances and their respective expiration dates, so that you can use the credits accordingly. To do so, you can use technology to track unused tickets. 

With the help of a travel management platform like GetGoing, you can keep track of your unused tickets easily and ensure no money goes to waste frivolously. You can monitor your unused tickets in the Reports section, get notified when you have ticket credits available, and start using them towards your next trip. 

Don’t fret if your travel plans change or business trips get canceled or postponed. GetGoing will let you know if you have any credits available to apply to your next trip. Create a draft of your trip and then contact a Travel Expert to complete your booking with your ticket credits. It’s that easy.

Want to learn more about unused tickets or find out how GetGoing can help optimize your travel spend?

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