In response to the widespread coronavirus pandemic (or COVID-19), airlines have rolled out extremely lenient change fee policies that give travelers a lot more flexibility than they would normally have for booking domestic and international flights.
American Airlines will not charge any change fees for flights ticketed between March 1 and April 15, 2020, as long as the changes are made anytime before your original departure date. The waiver will apply to travel that takes place up to one year from the original ticket date.
“Book your flight with confidence,” American Airlines stated about its newly extended policy (the waiver previously included flights booked in March). The one-time change fee waiver only applies to non-refundable fares—so of course you could pay more for a refundable fare and have even more of a safety net, but that hasn’t changed. The policy also excludes award ticket bookings.
Delta is giving its passengers some extended temporary relief as well. For any flights booked between March 1 and April 15, 2020, Delta will waive the change fee as long as the new travel is ticketed within one year of the original travel date. You will still have to pay a fare difference if there is one (but we’re guessing airfares aren’t going to skyrocket anytime soon).
United Airlines is waiving change fees for new bookings made between March 3 and March 31, 2020, for travel up to one year from the original travel date. You will be charged the fare difference if there is one.
For all of above airlines, you can also cancel your flight, set aside the value, and apply it to a new ticket without a fee for travel up to 12 months from the original travel dates.
For those wondering why this is any better than a wait-and-see approach to booking flights (especially in these very unpredictable times), while there’s nothing wrong with that approach either, this is a unique opportunity to get some unprecedented leniency from carriers that are typically much more stingy about these types of things.
Alaska, JetBlue waiving fees, too
JetBlue has suspended change and cancel fees for new flight bookings made between March 6 and March 31, 2020, for travel completed by October 24, 2020.
The move applies to all JetBlue fares, including Blue Basic, which generally does not allow for any changes or cancellations.
Customers who book by March 31 will receive a full travel credit should they need to cancel their trip—although fare differences will apply.
At Alaska Airlines, if you purchase its lower-tier Saver fare by April 30, 2020, for travel through February 28, 2021, you can cancel your trip and deposit the funds into your Alaska account to be applied to a future flight instead. If you purchase a nonrefundable first-class or economy fare by April 30, 2020, for travel through February 28, 2021, you can cancel your trip and deposit the funds into your Alaska account for a future flight, or you can make a one-time change with no change fee (a fare difference will apply).
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Michelle Baran Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.