Ultimate Guide: Change Fees For United States Based Airlines

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Two weeks ago, we saw several airlines announce the elimination of change fees. The first airline to announce the elimination was United Airlines and then the dominoes started to fall as several airlines followed suit to offer passenger more flexibility during these unique times.

Though this is a net-win for passengers, it’s also important to recognize that all airlines are following the path set by Southwest Airlines as they have never charged change fees.

If you’re not familiar with change fees, airlines would charge upwards of $200 if passengers had to change their domestic travel plans for any reason. Now US-based airlines are eliminating these fees on domestic flights but all airlines don’t have the same policies.

I thought it would be a great idea to make a guide outlining the change fee policies for each US-based airline.

CHANGE POLICIES FOR US-BASED AIRLINES

Below are the change and cancel policies for US-based airlines…

Alaska Airlines Change Fee

Alaska Airlines is waiving all change fees for the rest of 2020 regardless of the fare class. All TICKETS purchased in 2020 for travel through 30 November 2021 can be cancelled or changed free of charge.

Starting 1 January 2021, all tickets (except saver fares) will be eligible for free changes. It’s worth noting that fare differences may apply.

Change fees will be waived for:

  • Any of the 50 U.S. States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica

Historically, Alaska has offered credit for the fare difference when the cost is less than the original ticketed value and currently this still applies.

Allegiant Airlines Change Fees

Customers with reservations may make a one-time change to their travel plans without incurring change or cancel fees. Changes and cancellations can be made online or by phone.

If you plan to cancel, you can:

  • Change your flight to any other scheduled Allegiant flight at no additional cost
  • You may be charged or credited for fare differences.

You may cancel your reservation and receive a full credit in the form of an Allegiant voucher for future travel. The voucher will be good for 2 years starting from the date of the initial reservation.

American Airlines Change Fee

American Airlines is waiving all change and cancellation fees for ALL tickets (regardless to ticket type) bought by 31 December 2020, for travel to ALL destinations.

It’s worth noting that fare differences do apply. In the case that the cost of your ticket does decrease, an electronic credit will be issued and the passenger has to redeem the voucher within the next year.

Effective 1 January 2021, American Airlines eliminated all change fees for First, Business, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets (note: excludes basic economy and AAdvantage award tickets) for all domestic and short-haul international flying.

Change and cancellation fees will be waived for:

  • All 50 states
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Effective 1 October 2020, American Airlines is also waiving all standby fees. Passengers will be able to standby for all flights (domestic and international) on the same day as their original departure to the same destination at no charge.

Delta Air Lines Change Fee

Delta Air Lines coronavirus waiver deems any ticket purchased BEFORE 30 September 2020 for travel through 30 September 2021 can be changed free of charge but fare differences do apply. If the fare is less that the original ticket, an eVoucher will be issued. This applies to ALL Delta Air Line destinations and fare classes.

Delta Air Lines will eliminate change fees for:

  • All 50 states
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

It’s also worth noting that all fare classes will be exempt from change fees, except Basic Economy which remains non-refundable and non-changeable. Additionally, international flights change fees will range between $200-$500 depending on the fare class and destination.

Frontier Airlines Change Fee

Historically, Frontier has always charged for all changes, however, for itineraries made BEFORE 30 September 2020, Frontier will waive the change fees once as long as the change is made 7+ days prior to departure. Similar to Delta, fare differences will apply, however, if the new ticket is cheaper, no residual value will be refunded or credited to the passenger.

Frontier has taken a tiered approach in how they manage cancellation and fees. If you cancel:

  • 60+ days prior to departure = free
  • Between 14-59 days prior to departure = $79
  • 13 days or less prior to departure = $119.

The fare differences will always be collected when making changes. If the ticket is cheaper, you will not receive a refund. If a passenger cancels, vouchers must be utilized within 90 days.

Frontier is a low-cost airline, what do you expect!? It’s their entire business model.

JetBlue Change Fee

At the moment, Jetblue is offering a COVID-19 Waiver if you purchase travel BEFORE 28 February 2021 all fees will be waived if you change or cancel. 

If you choose to rebook, you can do so on any flight but fare differences will apply. If the ticket is less or if you cancel the ticket, an electronic credit will be given.

It’s unclear what Jetblue plans to do about change/cancellation fees after 28 February 2021. At the moment, change and cancellation fees are waived for TrueBlue Mosaic elite members. However, at this time, the following rules still apply.

Mint (their business class)

  • There is a $200 fee (per person) for all Mint tickets

Blue & Blue Plus Fares (their economy)

  • If the passenger ticket cost $200 or more = $200 fee (per person)
  • If the passenger ticket cost $150 – $199.99 = $150 fee (per person)
  • If the passenger ticket cost $100 – $149.99 = $100 fee (per person) 
  • If the passenger ticket cost under $100 = $75 fee (per person) 

Blue Basic Fares (their basic economy)

  • Basic blue tickets are always non-refundable and non-changeable.

Note: The difference in fare will apply to all of the fares above.

Southwest Airlines Change Fees

Everyone say in unison now….Southwest Airlines has NEVER charged passengers a change or cancellation fee regardless of flight, fare class, or destination.

If the price of a passenger ticket increases, Southwest will collect the fare difference. However, when the price decreases, Southwest will issue a credit to be used for a future flight in the form of an electronic voucher.

So in essence, everyone is following Southwest Airlines. 😉

Spirit Airlines Change Fee

Spirit will waive change and cancellation fees for passengers that book travel by 30 September 2020.

If a passenger is interested in changing or cancelling their tickets, they have to go to My Trips, enter their name and confirmation number, then proceed with the steps to change or cancel their flights. If a passenger cancels their flight, they will receive a full purchase price reservation credit instantly.

As usual, Spirit is making this information extremely difficult to find but I because they do not have any information for purchases on (or after) 1 October 2020, I assumer the normal spirit airline change and cancellation fees will apply:

  • Ticket change or cancellation (via the internet): $90 per person
  • Ticket change or cancellation (at the airport or over the phone): $100 per person
  • Ticket change or cancellation (for a group): $50 per person

United Airlines Change Fee

For 2020, United airlines is waiving all change and cancellation fees (domestic and international) for all tickets, including basic economy. If you purchase a ticket before 31 December 2020, you can make free changes to the ticket. If a passenger needs to cancel, a voucher will be issued that expires in 12 months.

United Airlines will eliminate change fees for:

  • All 50 states
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

If a passenger purchased a Basic Economy ticket, the same rules still apply; non-refundable and non-changeable like Delta. If the price decreases, United will NOT issue a credit.

Similar to the other US3, starting in 2021, United Airlines will allow passengers to standby for free on an earlier flight, however, passengers will fly standby for each connection and will not be confirmed through all segments so this could ultimately be a waiting game.

FINAL STAMP

Whew…that was A LOT!

The verdict is still out if these changes will last forever despite some airlines (READ: United Airlines) stating that it will last forever.

I hope this summary helps when you are planning your future travel or when you’re standing at the customer service desk debating the “rules” with a customer service agent. You can easily select the links that direct you to the airline policies.

Do the policies of one particular airline encourage you to book with them?

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