Apparently there are exceptions to the nonrefundable airline fares. I purchased a nontransferable, nonrefundable, round-trip ticket to Heathrow, London, from Los Angeles from a well-known international airline for $464 which included all taxes. Departure date: May 8. Return: May 24.
In London, I was to join a tour to Yugoslavia. During the latter part of April, the tour operator informed me that due to unsettled conditions in that country, the dates were changed to departure on May 22 with return June 7. I contacted the airline and they changed the travel dates with no objection.
However, in the early part of May, I was again contacted by the tour operator and was informed that all tours to Yugoslavia had been canceled.
I explained the situation to the airline representative at LAX and he immediately gave me a refund in the amount of $464. The entire transaction took less than 10 minutes and the representative was extremely cooperative and polite.