Q. I want to fly out to San Diego in early September to visit with my daughter and new grandbabies, but I'm not sure how long I'll be staying. Is there still such a thing as an open ended return date or is there a more cost effective way to do this?
A. You could always buy a fully refundable return ticket, but -as you've probably discovered- those don't come cheap. Normally, airlines charge around $150 to change a domestic fare. However, if you fly to San Diego on Southwest Airlines, you can easily change your return date without paying any annoying change fees. The only downside? If the fare has gone up, you’ll pay the fare difference (on the other hand, if the fare has gone down, you would get a voucher for the fare difference). If there are low one-way fares to San Diego, you could, of course, just buy a one-way ticket going out and then buy a second one-way fare on the return flight when you're ready to come home. On many routes, airlines such as Southwest and Airtran sell one-way fares for just half price of the lowest available round-trip fare.