Startup companies offer cheaper options for changing flight reservations

The severe weather could force thousands of flight cancellations and delays, but some startup companies might save travelers the headache, as well as lighten the burden on their wallets.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines made nearly $3 billion off flight cancellations and changes. But companies such as "Options Away" and "FLYR" can help consumers avoid these hefty fees by allowing them to hold flights for a limited time and lock in lower rate, all for a much lower fee.

"You can go ahead and book the flight if you want it, but if you don't want it, you're just out of that fee, instead of paying hundreds of dollars to the airline to change your flight that you committed to before you really knew what your travel plans were going to be," said USA Today travel reporter Charisse Jones.

Some airlines also offer their own versions of these services. For example, United Airlines' FareLock program allows customers to hold flight rates for three to seven days for a cost of $7 to $9. American Airlines allows customers to hold flight rates up to 24 hours for free.

But beyond that, airlines can charge upwards of $200 for ticket changes. Meanwhile, for between $6 to $30, FLYR allows customers to hold flight rates for up to seven days, and also notifies them of better deals.

Jones said this option is not only more cost-efficient, but also gives travelers some flexibility.

"You have a lot of different options, so if you want to look at one carrier for one itinerary, another carrier for another, that's two different fees, but that's like $10 or $15 compared to what you have to pay if you have to re-book a flight and pay that change fee, plus the difference in the fares. That's a fortune for a lot of people."