Updated 9/3/20: Hawaiian Airlines Ends Change Fees for All Flights, Domestic and International
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines are Ending Change Fees for domestic flights, and in AA's case, for short haul international flights as well. United was first in eliminating its $200 per ticket change fee. Note that if you change to a more expensive fare, you'll still need to pay the difference in fare.
Alaska has eliminated all change fees for all domestic and international tickets except Saver fares (although even Saver tickets purchased by 12/31/20 are exempt from change fees).
This is especially great for those traveling on international tickets, as none of the other airlines (AA, United, Delta) are exempting passengers from change fees on long haul international tickets.
AA has ended its change fees for both revenue and award tickets for all tickets (except Basic Economy–although even Basic Economy tickets booked by 12/31/20 will have change fees waived) for the following destinations:
- All 50 U.S. states
- Puerto Rico
- US Virgin Islands
If you change to a cheaper fare, keep in mind that you won't get a monetary refund to your payment card, but you will receive a voucher that you can use towards a future American Airlines ticket.
Delta has also ended its change fees although only for paid tickets, not for award tickets. There will be no change fees charged for purchased tickets for any fare class except for Basic Economy tickets (Basic Economy tickets still incur a change fee, although even Basic Economy tickets booked by 12/31/20 will have change fees waived) for travel within:
- Domestic U.S. (all 50 states)
- Puerto Rico
- Virgin Islands
Hawaiian Airlines is later to the party, but the bonus is that Hawaiian, effective 9/3/20, has ended all change fees for its international as well as domestic flights, both paid tickets and award flights, except for Main Cabin Basic. As with the other airlines, even Main Cabin Basic tickets purchased through 12/31/20 can be modified without change fees, thanks to Hawaiian Airlines' COVID-19 waiver.
United Airlines: No Change Fees, But No Refund of Fare Difference
United Airlines was the first of the major carriers to end change fees for domestic travel, for both paid and MileagePlus award tickets. As with AA and Delta, the elimination of change fees does NOT apply to Basic Economy tickets (although Basic Economy tickets booked by 12/31/20 do enjoy a waiver of change fees) for the following domestic destinations:
- All 50 states
- Puerto Rico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
Note that Guam is NOT included.
Any fare difference must be paid, and if the new flight is less expensive, there is no refund of the fare difference (unlike AA, which will refund the difference in the form of a travel voucher for future AA travel).
Note that for award travel, while there is no change fee, there is still a redeposit fee ($125 per ticket for non-elite members) if the redeposit is within 30 days of travel.
Also, starting January 1, 2021, it will be possible to stand by for an earlier flight for free.
Eliminating change fees is a great move by United, American and Delta, since these and other ancillary fees are some of travelers' most hated fees, along with resort fees. AA's change is especially good, since it eliminates change fees for not only domestic U.S. travel, but also AA flights to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. That's especially important under the current pandemic circumstances, when a destination may close to U.S. travelers altogether, or the traveler may become ill, in which case it's not only in the interest of the passenger to allow a free change, but also in the interest of other passengers and crew, lest the ill passenger have COVID-19 or another infectious illness and inadvertently infect others.
We'd like to see JetBlue also eliminate change fees, but these changes by United, AA, Delta and Alaska are a great start.
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