Finally, some good news has arrived for travelers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Several major airlines including United, Delta and American Airlines have eliminated change fees for domestic flights. According to this Forbes article, change and cancellation fees cost consumers $2.8 billion in 2019.
Below are a few highlights on each airline’s new policy:
The first to announce the removal of change fees, United Airlines has permanently eliminated change fees for fares booked in Economy, Economy Plus, United First, United Business and United Premium PlusSM. Travelers with Basic Economy tickets will only be able to change tickets that are issued by December 31, 2020 with no change fees.
United has also enacted a new fee-free policy for travelers to fly stand-by and take off earlier in the day. Travelers will need to pay for any increase in fare if re-booking on a new flight, but American will not refund travelers if the new flight is less than the flight booked.
Delta’s new policy applies to domestic flights, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Travelers will receive a voucher for the difference in cost if changing to a cheaper flight through the end of 2020. This policy excludes award flights booked with Delta SkyMiles.
Details for flights in 2021 have not yet been announced.
American Airlines’ new policy applies to all domestic flights, and select short-haul international destinations, including between the U.S. and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Basic economy fares and other international flights are excluded from the new policy and will still be subject to change fees after Dec. 31.
If a traveler decides to change flights and the new flight is cheaper, American will distribute a credit for future use. The policy also applies to award tickets purchased on or before December 31, 2020.
These new policies will make a big difference in the way we book travel in the future, and are particularly beneficial for travelers with changing schedules looking for more flexibility in their fares. CWT has also provided a quick search capability for travelers to check for travel restrictions between countries. Details include the status of open borders during the dates of your upcoming trip, quarantine policy, mandatory health documents and the need to wear masks (PPE).