Delta and American Airlines Are Dumping Change Fees
Well, this is a good trend. United Airlines started it Sunday with its announcement that it would permanently get rid of change fees. Now its two major rivals, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have followed suit, less than 24 hours later. Both announced Monday afternoon that they would permanently drop most change fees as well.
Change fees have long been a lucrative business for airlines. They could go as high as $200 per person per flight and airlines have raked in billions over the years. Just in 2019 it is estimated that they took in $2.8 billion ib change fees. And now they are a thing of the past. It started as a temporary move during the pandemic, when airlines tarted waiving these fees. But now all major domestic airlines have gotten rid of them permanently and effective immediately. Southwest Airlines, the fourth largest US airline, has never had change fees.
Effective immediately, American will eliminate all change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for all domestic and short-haul international flying. All customers will also have the ability to fly standby on earlier flights for the same destination on the same day at no charge starting Oct. 1, 2020.
American will also allow customers to keep the full value of their original tickets if they change their travel plans prior to the scheduled travel. Although customers will have to pay the fare difference for a new flight, customers will not lose their ticket value if the new flight is less expensive. For example, if a customer paid $500 for their flight and change to a flight that costs $300, American will give the customer a $200 voucher to use for a future trip.
In addition, American is also providing customers additional flexibility by extending its offer to waive change fees for customers booking tickets for any new travel purchased by Dec. 31, 2020.
“American is offering more flexibility and ease than ever before, should travel plans change,” said American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja.
You can read the full announcement and more improvements here.
Delta Air Lines
The elimination of change fees is effective immediately and includes tickets purchased for travel within the domestic U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands in Delta’s First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin, with the exception of Basic Economy tickets.
Additionally, Delta will extend its waiver on change fees for newly purchased flights, including international flights and Basic Economy fares, through the end of the year and will extend its expiration on travel credits through December 2022 for tickets booked before April 17, 2020.
“We’ve said before that we need to approach flexibility differently than this industry has in the past, and today’s announcement builds on that promise to ensure we’re offering industry-leading flexibility, space and care to our customers,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian.
You can read the full announcement here.