What are Unrestricted Fares?

Unrestricted airline tickets provide business travelers with lots of options.
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There's almost no end to the different types of fares and fare codes that business travelers can encounter when booking an airline ticket. One of the cleanest (and generally most expensive) such fares is an unrestricted fare.

Unrestricted fares are airline (or other transportation) fares that do not have restrictions, such as a Saturday night stay, a 14-day advance purchase, or a specific number of nights stay requirement.

Many unrestricted fares are refundable and easily changeable, which is why business travelers prefer them, given a choice.

Unrestricted fares are typically the fares that you would get if you walked up to an airline counter right before a flight and wanted to book a ticket. They're expensive, but they also tend to be very flexible.

Examples of Unrestricted Fares

Examples of unrestricted fares are typically full-fare coach tickets or first-class tickets. Such tickets are usually fully refundable with complete flexibility. When I used to travel a lot for the computer industry, I frequently flew using unrestricted airfares. On business trips to San Francisco, we would often have to make changes, either adding additional cities to visit, or perhaps extending a business trip by a day or two. For a business traveler, the built-in flexibility was great. It allowed me to make my business meetings but be totally flexible in case new business came up or in case we had to make changes to the trip.

For example, on it's website, American Airlines states that its unrestricted fares are "fully refundable and do not have advanced purchase requirements. If you purchase a ticket that is identified as an  unrestricted fare, you can make changes to your flight with no change fee (based on seat availability)."

Of course, as with any airline ticket these days, additional charges will apply if the new ticket or route is more expensive than your existing ticket.

Getting the Best Airline Fares

Of course, unrestricted fares not the cheapest fares. In fact, it's hard to find more expensive tickets than full-fare, unrestricted tickets. But if you're a business travel who wants to save money, it's best to look for ways to get the best airfares.It can often pay to look for other ways to book discounted travel and cheaper airline tickets. Business travelers should consider visiting discounted travel websites like www.bestfares.com or www.cheaptickets.com to see if there are last minute deals.

Also, keep in mind that it can be more economical to NOT book an unrestricted fare (because they're so expensive) and instead, book non-refundable, restricted fares, even with the assumption that you'll possibly have to throw one away and book a new, third, non-refundable flight. Although, you have to be careful that the airline doesn't catch on and cancel one or both tickets (usually as long as the travel is logistically feasible, they won't). Clearly, an unrestricted fare provides the most flexibility, but at a cost.

Business travelers hoping to save money should definitely consider other money-saving fare strategies and fare categories.