Most Major Airlines Now Permanently Waiving Change Fees

Many leading airlines permanently waived change fees following the uncertainty surrounding travels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

After many international and domestic travel plans were derailed during 2020, travelers faced uncertainty regarding refunds, flight change fees, and navigating safe travels throughout the pandemic when possible. And while COVID-19 impacted the travel industry quite negatively, it paved the way for major airlines to introduce cost-free flight changes, which are now being adopted permanently by United, American, Alaska, and Delta.

The initiatives allow for more flexibility and freedom when it comes to air travel.

“We are committed to making travel easier for our customers who fly on American,” said American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja in a November 2020 press release. “By eliminating change fees, we’re giving customers more flexibility no matter when or where they plan to travel.”

American Airlines travelers are now welcome to change their flight itinerary for free on any domestic and short-haul international flight, as well as for select long-haul international flights. Cost-free changes apply to Premium Cabin, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin fares, except for Basic Economy. 

American Airlines travelers are allowed one change to their trip.

Much like policies implemented by American Airlines, United Airlines will permanently omit change fees for “most Economy and premium cabin tickets for flights within the U.S., or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean,” according to the airline’s website.

Cost-free changes to travel itineraries are available to those who book Economy, Economy Plus, United First, United Business, and United Premium Plus fares. Basic Economy tickets can be changed sans fees if the ticket is issued by April 30, and all other international travel without change fees if the ticket is issued by May 31. Additionally, there is no limit to how many times you can change your flight at no cost.

United is also offering travelers a flight credit, valid for up to one year from your original ticket issue date, on cancelled flights.

Delta Airlines is also offering cost-free changes to tickets for travel within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and USVI, as well as or travel originating in North America and travel between the Caribbean, the U.S., and Mexico. Basic Economy fares are, again, excluded. Delta offers a step-by-step guide for proceeding with flight changes also.

“COVID has taught us that flexibility in travel is key. As we evolve our approach to travel to include more than 100 safety actions, it’s important to give our guests flexibility when they book by eliminating change fees,” said Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines in a press release.


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