Most airlines offer a choice between refundable and non-refundable airline tickets. This tends to be an unknown and unused option for many travelers; most travelers aren't looking so much for potential refunds as they are for other attractive qualities in their fares.

When flight shopping, affordable pricing is usually the first necessity on the list, depending on the reason for travel, followed by whether or not the flight fits in appropriately with the traveler's specific travel dates and times. Refundable tickets follow somewhere on that list, but the main reason why refundable tickets aren't a popular purchase is because they tend to be much more expensive than their non-refundable counterparts.

The following is a list of popular airlines used widely across the United States, offering a comparison between pricing for refundable and non-refundable tickets for sample flights, as well as information on each airline's cancellation or change policies.

Southwest

Sample Trip: New York, NY (LGA) to Austin, TX (AUS)

Non-Refundable Ticket Price: $348

Refundable Ticket Price: $598

Cancellation/Change Fee: $0

Southwest is arguably the most popular airline in the United States. In relation to refundable ticket sales as opposed to non-refundable ticket sales, the majority of tickets offered by Southwest are refundable, with no penalty fees. While there are some drawbacks to flying Southwest, such as its standby and overselling practices, the gamble tends to be worth the risk when analyzing the perks that the airline offers.

JetBlue

Sample Trip: New York, NY (JFK) to Austin, TX (AUS)

Non-Refundable Ticket Price: $520

Refundable Ticket Price: $635

Cancellation/Change Fee: $75 to $150

With JetBlue's perks, such as free-in-air Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks and beverages, it's not surprising that it also tops the popularity list when it comes to air travel. JetBlue offers both refundable and non-refundable tickets, with refundable tickets the following suit as being the more expensive choice of the two. JetBlue's cancellation or change fees range from $75 to $150 per person, depending on the price of the initial fare.

Delta

Sample Trip: New York, NY (JFK) to Austin, TX (AUS)

Non-Refundable Ticket Price: $183

Refundable Ticket Price: $875

Cancellation/Change Fee: $200 for domestic flights; $200 to $500 for international flights

While Delta Airlines is a popular choice for domestic travel, it's even more popular when it comes to international travel. Delta offers refundable and non-refundable tickets as well, and its cancellation fees are a bit steeper than those demanded by JetBlue. For domestic travel, Delta charges a $200 cancellation or change fee, and the fee increases to range from $200 to $500 for international travel, depending on the price of the initial fare and location.

United

Sample Trip: Newark, NJ (EWR) to Austin, TX (AUS)

Non-Refundable Ticket Price: $261

Refundable Ticket Price: $311

Cancellation/Change Fee: $200 for domestic flights; $200 to $400+ for international flights

United Airlines permits cancellations or changes without a penalty only if the flight is canceled or changed within 24 hours of booking. Any changes or cancellations following the first 24 hours incur a minimum fee of $200 per person. As with the previous airlines, the refundable ticket price is nearly four times the amount of the non-refundable price for the same exact trip.

American

Sample Trip: New York, NY (JFK) to Austin, TX (AUS)

Non-Refundable Ticket Price: $184

Refundable Ticket Price: $679

Cancellation/Change Fee: $75 for domestic flights; $150 for international flights (same day flight change)

American Airlines works quite similarly to United and Delta in terms of how it offers refundable and non-refundable tickets. The cancellation or change fees are similar as well, in that they range upwards of $200 depending on the type of flight.

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