Stupid Fee Alert: Continental’s FareLock

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Continental Airlines announced on Monday that it will allow customers to lock in ticket prices without having to buy a ticket for up to a week, provided they pay for it.

The new option, called FareLock, intends to help consumers avoid price increases or sold-out flights, the airline said. Fees begin at $5 for a 72-hour hold, and $9 for a seven-day hold, but will vary based on the length of the hold, travel itinerary and number of days to departure. Instead of buying a ticket, customers who aren’t ready to commit to the flight yet can choose FareLock to make sure they don’t miss out.

The airline charged MainStreet $9 to hold a round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles for three days, and $19 to hold the ticket for a week. Interestingly, locking in a round-trip airfare from New York to Rome had the same price points, despite the overall cost of the flight being nearly $400 higher.

Continental says FareLock will only be available on select domestic or international flights. You can tell that a fare is eligible by the FareLock insignia that is listed under its price. 

"This new option is another way that Continental is giving our customers more choices and more control over their travel experience," Chris Amenechi, managing director of merchandising said in a press release.

Continental said it plans to continue its 24-hour flexible booking policy, which allows for a full refund if reservation changes and cancellations occur within 24 hours of purchase.  Once this 24-hour grace period elapses, however, the airline will charge to change or cancel your flight. These fees vary as well, depending on the traveler’s itinerary and length of notice. Still, a same-day flight change can cost $50, so, at the very least, those who are indecisive might find FareLock useful.

Continental’s 24-hour flexible booking policy also applies to customers who opt for FareLock. Should you chose to cancel your flight, the fee is non-refundable.

Continental’s FareLock isn’t the craziest fee an airline’s ever introduced. MainStreet round ups the most absurd airline fees in 2010.

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