Once you buy an airline ticket, it's usually yours. Change fees can often cost as much as what you paid for a low fare.
Holly Everitt and her daughter, Brandi, bought a non-refundable fare for a flight to London. But after making their reservation, Holly was diagnosed with cancer.
She's undergoing chemotherapy and her doctor says she's not medically fit to make the trip.
Her travel agent wasn't able to honor a refund on their non-refundable ticket, so she contacted NBC 5 Responds.
We passed along the doctor's note to British Airways, and they quickly issued a refund saying, "We apologize for the inconvenience this caused during a difficult time for our customer."
Brandi said the refunded money will help them pay medical bills.
Refunds are considered on a case-by-case basis by most airlines, including British Airways.
They may not always give you any money back, but British Airways says with documentation of your illness they will allow you to change the date of your trip to a date after you are well.
The policy is different for every airline.
A spokesman for Fort Worth-based American Airlines said usually with a doctor's note they will allow you to re-book within a year.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines offers changes without a fee for any reason.
The best way to ensure you will get actual cash back is to purchase travel insurance, but always double check the policy to make sure you're aware of all the conditions impacting a medical claim.