You Can Now Resell Your Plane Tickets — on Air France
Even before the advent of no-refund basic economy tickets, most flight were effectively nonrefundable due to steep airline change fees. If you have a change of plans after booking your flights, you're likely to lose most, if not all, of the ticket's cost.
Sure, there are services like SpareFare that let you sell your ticket to another passenger, transferring the ticket by utilizing airline name change fee policies. However, these services aren't endorsed by airlines, and passengers could risk blowback if the airline finds out about the transaction.
But now, there's an airline-approved ticket transfer service: Air France, and its subsidiary Joon, just partnered with Flexfly to let passengers sell their Air France/Joon tickets to those interested in buying them. Here's how they explain the new service:
Air France presents FlexFly, the platform for reselling and buying airline tickets in complete safety. On FlexFly, you can post an ad to resell your ticket. If your ticket is of interest to a buyer, FlexFly pays you a reward up to 50% of the price of the airline ticket (the remaining 50% is used to pay FlexFly and the airlines, but above all to provide a discount for the potential buyer).
From further digging, I was able to find out that the passenger listing the trip gets 50% of the original purchase price back, not 50% of the discounted price when it's sold to another traveler. The ticket is then discounted from its original price and listed. After paying the original passenger half of the original price, the remaining purchase price is split between the airline and FlexFly.
As expected from a service that's just launched and is trying to broker peer-to-peer transfers, there aren't many offers currently available. When I checked Wednesday morning, there were just three flight options, all departing from Paris, only for one passenger and occurring in January-February 2019:
While that short list isn't very useful for passengers now, particularly in the US, hopefully the idea will catch on with other airlines and the program will expand. After all, it makes a lot of sense for airlines to take advantage of this service. Not only do they get to capture the full original price of the ticket, but they also earn a portion of the second sale as well. Passengers stuck with a nonrefundable ticket will obviously be happy to get half of the purchase price back, and travelers with flexible schedules can potentially pick up a nice deal.
If you're in a situation where you aren't able to make a trip, first check to see what credit card you used to book the trip. Hopefully, if you've been following TPG's advice, you booked the flight with a credit card that offers trip cancellation / interruption insurance. If the cause of your trip cancellation is covered, you'll not only get a refund of the airfare but you'll also be able to recover any other nonrefundable trip expenses.