Each domestic US airline has recently announced that it will no longer charge change fees. It's amazing. It can be difficult to remember all the details. What fare classes are available? If the new flight is less expensive, can we keep the difference in the fare? Are there any standby fees? What happens to award change fees? Each airline will have a different answer. These are just a few of the quick reference tables that can be used to help answer these questions.
UPDATE 8/6/2021 - Delta made some positive changes. Added a COVID related waiver. Customers who booked Basic Economy can make changes on their flights to travel between 7/28/21 and 12/31/21.
Basic (non-elite members) can now be on standby for same day earlier flights free of charge, but only if a confirmed change is not possible. Confirmed same day changes still incur fees. For those who fly within the United States, Puerto Rico, or the U.S Virgin Islands, same-day standby is available. Details here.
All change fees were waived by airlines for tickets issued during the pandemic. However, most of these basic economy waivers have ended. Delta now offers a new window for travel that waives these fees (flights between 7/28/21 and 12/31/21).
For flights that are scheduled between 7/28/21 & 12/31/21, AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue fees will be waived. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Includes award change fees. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Includes Award Cancellation Fees? Yes Yes Yes
Paid fare change fees
These are the circumstances in which post-pandemic, change fees are permanently waived
AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue Base Economy Fees Not Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived All other tickets Paid fees Fees are waived for all flights that originate in North or South America. All flights from North America are exempted from fees All flights from the United States are exempted from fees All routes exempted from fees Fees are waived on all routes. What if a new flight is less expensive? Future flight fare difference preserved Fare difference preserved
Gregs guess: Future flight fare difference kept in reserve Fare differential preserved Gregs guess: Future flight fare difference kept in reserve Gregs guess
Awards Ticket Fees
These are the circumstances in which post-pandemic, award change fees can be permanently waived
AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue Base Economy Fees Not Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Fees ARE NOT Waived Change Fees For These Routes: All routes have their change fees waived
All flights from North America are exempted from fees All flights from North America to the 50 US states, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Caribbean are exempted from change fees. Cancellation fees are waived on all routes if cancelled within 30 days of departure. All routes are exempt from cancellation fees Hawaiian charges $30.00 to purchase tickets that are only within Hawaii and $150.00 for all other tickets
All routes exempted from cancellation fees
Only United, Delta and AA have announced that they will no longer charge same-day change fees. The following chart shows current rules regarding who is eligible for free changes (to my knowledge).
AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue Same Day Standby
All members are free as of October 1 2020. All members are free as of August 2021. All members are free as of January 1 2021. Please see note** For rules*** Same Day Confirmed
Select flights and members are free* Gold elite members and higher. All elite (Premier) members are eligible for a complimentary flight. Book fully refundable tickets or MVP Gold tickets and get a free ticket for Blue Extra members.
* AA offers same-day confirmed changes free of charge for AAdvantage Platinum and Platinum Pro members (and companions in the same reservation), oneworld Emerald member with elite status on Alaska Airlines and those flying award tickets, Unrestricted Economy (Y fares), Business, First, AirPass.
Alaska will offer standby at no charge if you meet one of the following conditions: 1) Your flight is nonstop between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Seattle and Portland, or Seattle and Spokane; 2) You have a refundable Main Cabin or First Class ticket; 3) You are a MVP Gold Mileage Plan member.
Hawaiian Airlines offers same-day standby flights to neighboring Islands only for Gold and Platinum elites and Corporate customers who book through their corporate portal.
Other changes and enhancements
Delta removes the 72-hour award change rule on domestic flights
Delta issued the following statement
Delta will make the following permanent changes to travel within the U.S. (including Puerto Rico, U.S Virgin Islands): All SkyMiles members will be exempted from the $150 redeposit fees to cancel award tickets and the $150 reissue fees to modify award tickets. This applies to all tickets except Basic Economy fares.
All SkyMiles members are allowed to cancel or change award tickets prior to departure, except for Basic Economy fares. Cancellations and changes made within 72 hours after departure will not result in the loss or credit of miles for domestic award tickets.
AA changes the basic economy
American Airlines has announced several changes to the basic economy.
Members who have reached Elite status in the AAdvantage program this fall will be able to enjoy the same benefits regardless of the ticket they purchased. Our elite members who have purchased a Basic Economy ticket will be able to upgrade their privileges and enjoy Priority Access/Preferred boarding.
Elite seats privileges include access to Main Cabin Premium and Main Cabin Additional seats.
Same-day confirmed flight change benefit. Basic Economy tickets no longer qualify for elite status and will not earn miles, dollars or segments towards future status.
We will keep this post updated as airlines eliminate change fees.
Previous updates to this post