Frequent traveler Joe Barron found a way to at least try to beat the airlines at their own game, by using a free website called yapta.com. It's like your own personal travel agent that tracks fares for you, alerts you when prices go down and helps you get a refund if you qualify.
"This was very, very user friendly," he said.
Yapta.com CEO Tom Romary explained, "What yapta does is connects you to that constantly changing pricing environment, so that you don't have to miss out on a deal."
Romary says his site has saved travelers millions of dollars since launching last year. The website tracks air fares two ways -- either before you buy or after you've already purchased your ticket.
He said, "If you bought a $400 ticket on United, for example, and the price dropped $250, even on a restricted ticket, they would offer you a travel credit good for 12 months for $150."
All you do is log on, type in the information about the flight you're planning or one you already have booked, and the site will alert you for the lowest fare. In Barron's case, he had already purchased two round trip tickets to Amsterdam, so all he did was type his confirmation number on yapta.com and let the website track the fare for him.
"(I forgot about it until) one day there was a dramatic drop," Barron recalled.
By email yapta alerted Barron that his flight had dropped $600. Not only did the website notify Barron, they also sent him a step by step guide on how to get his refund.
"Continental sends travel vouchers a week later," Barron said. "It was seamless."
So with the money he saved, he and his wife got two tickets to Mexico.
On restricted fares, yapta takes into consideration the change fees before the site alerts you. Yapta is free but for $15, the company will actually contact the airline for you and get your refund.
We checked on some other air fare websites and got the details for you.
All of the websites listed below are free to use.
Don't waste your time with these:
Airfare.com, BookingBuddy.com, Expedia.com, FareCompare.com, Mobissimo.com, Sidestep.com, StudentUniverse.com:
These airlines don't charge for changes made to tickets: Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest and United.
Here are the normal change fees for other airlines:
Delta: $100 for US flights. Usually $200 for international flights, depending on the location.
US Airways: $50
For airlines not listed, contact a service representative to determine how much an exchange costs.
Low Fare Guarantees: Keep in my mind that in order to be eligible for any low-fare guarantee refund, the flights must have the same dates, origin, destination, layovers, cabin and flight number. Most of the Low Fare Guarantees apply only to tickets purchased online.
American: They will refund the difference if you find the same flight for at least $5 less on any other online site, and give you a $50 travel credit. But beware: the guarantee only applies if you find the cheaper fare on the same day you purchased the original ticket.
Continental: If you find your Continental flight listed more than $10 cheaper on any other travel website, Continental will pay you the difference and give you a $100 travel certificate.
Delta: Delta does not have an official low-airfare guarantee. It has a no-questions-asked cancellation policy, but only for tickets purchased one day prior to the cancellation.
Northwest: If you find your flight listed at least $10 cheaper, they will make up the difference and grant you a $100 travel credit.
United: Will refund the price difference if exchanging your ticket for a cheaper one purchased through them. If you find your flight listed anywhere else for at least $5 cheaper each way, the United website claims, "We know how to make it up to you."
US Airways: Will refund any difference in ticket fee.