Non-Refundable Fares Unfair?

Q. Back in July, my partner and I booked 'non-refundable' flights on from Portland to Baltimore. However, we ran into some financial difficulties and had to cancel the flights. I called the airlines directly (US Airways and Delta) to cancel. They said the tickets were non-refundable, but they would credit the costs to future flights with a $150 per ticket 'change fee.'

I find this unreasonable. A $50 fee maybe, but not $150. Also, I've never heard of a product that's non-refundable. Do think that's fair and is there a legal basis for challenging 'non-refundable' tickets?

A. Unfortunately, change fees are pretty high among the airlines these days, as you can see in our fee chart. As far as non-refundable tickets are concerned, only Southwest is enough of a maverick not to designate its lower priced fares as non-refundable. I doubt that there's a legal basis to challenge it, since the airlines do offer fully-refundable fares. You just have to pay a lot more for those refundable fares.