While previously most of the waivers we’ve seen for change and cancellation fees were on new travel, intended to spur more demand amid a general fear of flying, airlines in the U.S. are finally coming around to the idea that they need to do more for customers who already purchased tickets long ago and no longer want to use them.
I’m focusing this post on policies for pre-existing tickets, but you can also read my earlier post for more information on how airlines are promising flexibility (or the ability to “buy with confidence”) on new tickets purchased during the current worries about coronavirus.
American Airlines has agreed to waive change fees on any ticket purchased prior to March 1 for travel through April 30.
- Any ticket purchased prior to March 1 will not incur change fees prior to travel. Customers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, at time of ticketing of the new fare.
- This is available for any of American’s fares for travel through April 30.
- The new ticket must be reissued on/before December 31 or 12 months from the original ticket date (whichever is earlier).
Alaska Airlines has agreed to waive change fees on any ticket purchased prior to February 26 for travel through March 31.
- Tickets must be changed or canceled prior to the departure of your original flight.
- If you purchased your ticket directly from Alaska Airlines, you may change your flight or cancel your trip online.
- If you purchased your tickets through a third party, such as Expedia, another travel agency, or another airline, contact them directly for assistance.
- This waiver is valid only for tickets issued by Alaska Airlines, which you can identify by a 13-digit ticket number that begins with Alaska Airlines code “027”. Tickets issued by other airlines with a different carrier code (ticket numbers that don’t begin with “027”) are subject to the waiver policy of the other airline.
Delta Air Lines has agreed to waive change fees on any ticket purchased prior to March 9 for travel through April 30.
- Affected Customers: All Tickets Issued on or before March 9, 2020
- Impacted Travel Date(s): March 1, 2020 – April 30, 2020
- New Ticket Must Be Re-issued On/Before: Dec 31, 2020
- Rebooked Travel Must Begin No Later Than: Dec 31, 2020
United Airlines has agreed to waive change fees on any ticket purchased prior to March 9 for travel through April 30.
- New tickets must be reissued on/before December 31, 2020 or 12 months from original ticket date, whichever is earlier
- Rebooked travel must commence within 12 months from the original ticket issue date
- Original ticket must be issued on or before: March 2, 2020
Southwest Airlines has always allowed free changes and cancellations as long as the credit is used toward a future trip, so no waiver is in effect.
These five carriers are the largest in the U.S. and together constitute almost 800 million passengers flown in 2019. These are exactly the kind of cancellation policies that should have been put in place from the start, acknowledging the needs of customers to be flexible with new and existing bookings. Sadly the airlines will still have to cut their schedules and likely furlough large numbers of employees. But hopefully by making it an easier decision to delay travel, they will also help contribute to a reduced level of new coronavirus cases and make the epidemic easier to manage.