Breaking: Delta and American Airlines Also Eliminate Changes Fees

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Well, that didn’t take long. Yesterday, I wrote about United eliminating their change and stand by fees on domestic tickets and in less than 24 hours Delta and American have made announcements about their change fees.

As I was writing this article about Deltas announcement, American Airlines also released their announcement so let’s combine both announcements and dig into the details.

DELTA ELIMINATES CHANGE FEES (TOO)

In a statement released yesterday, Delta said, effective immediately, they are matching United Airlines’ elimination of domestic change fees.

This fee elimination will apply to:

  • travel within the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
  • for First Class, Premium Select, Comfort+, and Main Cabin tickets (Note: similar to UA, it excludes Basic Economy tickets)

Interestingly, questions remain as the statement did not mention anything about standby fees which is a departure from United Airlines’ statement.

DELTA FEE WAIVER EXTENSION

In their statement, Delta goes on to say:

  • It is extending the waiver on change fees for newly purchased flights (including international flights and Basic Economy fares) through 31 December 2020 and;
  • It will extend its expiration on travel credits through December 2022 for tickets booked before 17 April 2020.

AMERICAN AIRLINES ELIMINATES CHANGE FEES (TOO) BUT DOES IT EVEN BETTER

You didn’t think the worst airline in the United States would be left behind would you? 🤣

As expected, American Airlines immediately announced there would be a change to their change fees too, but it’s even better than the United or Delta policy.

An hour after Delta made their announcement, American Airlines says, effective immediately, they are matching United Airlines’ and Deltas elimination of domestic change fees but their fee elimination will apply to:

  • travel within the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands AND short haul international itineraries to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean
  • the change applies to First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin fares (with the exclusion of Basic Economy fares) and;
  • customers can retain the full value of the original tickets. For example, if you purchase a $500 ticket, change your ticket to a later date, and then use the $500 credit/voucher to purchase a $100 ticket, you will still have the $400 left over in residual funds (unlike the United policy).

MORE GOOD NEWS

There is some additional good news. Not only is American eliminating the change fee but they are also eliminating standby fees.

Per the announcement:

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, all customers will have the ability to stand by on flights on the same day as their original departure for the same destination at no charge. This flexibility extends to domestic and international travel, regardless of the ticket purchased.

American Airlines also charged $75 if you did not have any status with the airline.

AA FEE WAIVER EXTENSION

In their statement, American goes on to say it is extending the waiver on change fees for newly purchased flights (including international flights and Basic Economy fares) through 31 December 2020.

BASIC ECONOMY CHANGES

There are advantages and disadvantages with booking basic economy tickets, particularly if you have elite status but American is changing the model. Later this Fall, Elite members will receive all benefits when booking Basic Economy tickets including:

  • Upgrade privileges.
  • Elite seat privileges, including access to Main Cabin Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats. 
  • Same-day confirmed flight change benefit.

However, effective January 1, 2021, Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn elite qualifying dollars, miles or segments toward future status.

FOR THE FRUGAL FLYERS

If you tend to be frugal when purchasing airline tickets and lean more towards the Basic Economy tickets, there is good news for you also. Effective next month (October 1, 2020), non-elite customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets will be able to purchase:

  • Upgrades
  • Priority boarding 
  • Preferred/Main Cabin Extra seats 
  • Same-day confirmed flight changes

FINAL STAMP

The airlines made $3 billion last year in change fees and in less than 24 hours, all three major airlines have eliminated their changes fees which is ultimately positive for customers.

If I had to rank them at the moment, American is definitely the best as they have changed much of their program (for the better), United would be second, and surprisingly, Delta would be last.

We’ll see if these changes have any affect on customer behavior or if these changes will go unnoticed by the general public.

Do the changes encourage you to fly on one airline over the other? Have you ever had to change a flight? What was your experience like?

2 comments

  1. Wow, more movement within the great reshuffling… change fees have always felt like a nickel and dime maneuver from airlines. I was forced to change a lot for work travel in the past and this is where status helped if the change was within 24 hours. I do remember having to change a flight due to a family member being in the hospital and Delta requested the hospital and doctor name to waive the change fee!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. @dronejammin Yeah, elite status is key for any changes. Airlines made $3 billion last year but times are changing and airlines want to encourage people to fly. I look forward to seeing the results.

    Like

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