U.S. carriers begin offering waivers for pre-existing flights

Over the past few weeks, we've seen nearly all the major U.S. carriers offering waivers for no change fees for flights booked from March 1.  Unfortunately, none of the waivers applied to flights booked before March 1, and the waivers served as more of a marketing ploy to get customers to book flights that they may not have otherwise paid for.  But now, most of the major U.S. carriers have extended their existing travel waivers to cover pre-existing flights.



United Airlines

United Airlines is now waiving change fees on any ticket purchased prior to March 9 for travel through April 30.

  • New tickets must be reissued on/before December 31, 2020 or 12 months from original ticket date, whichever is earlier
  • Rebooked travel must commence within 12 months from the original ticket issue date
  • Original ticket must be issued on or before: March 2, 2020

American Airlines

American Airlines is now waiving change fees on any ticket purchased prior to March 1 for travel through April 30.
  • Any ticket purchased prior to March 1 will not incur change fees prior to travel. Customers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, at time of ticketing of the new fare.
  • This is available for any of American’s fares for travel through April 30.
  • The new ticket must be reissued on/before December 31 or 12 months from the original ticket date (whichever is earlier).

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is now waiving change fees on any ticket purchased prior to March 9 for travel through April 30.
  • New Ticket Must Be Re-issued On/Before: Dec 31, 2020
  • Rebooked Travel Must Begin No Later Than: Dec 31, 2020

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is now waiving change fees on any ticket purchased prior to February 26 for travel through March 31.

  • Tickets must be changed or canceled prior to the departure of your original flight.
  • If you purchased your ticket directly from Alaska Airlines, you may change your flight or cancel your trip online.
  • If you purchased your tickets through a third party, such as Expedia, another travel agency, or another airline, contact them directly for assistance.
  • This waiver is valid only for tickets issued by Alaska Airlines, which you can identify by a 13-digit ticket number that begins with Alaska Airlines code “027”. Tickets issued by other airlines with a different carrier code (ticket numbers that don’t begin with “027”) are subject to the waiver policy of the other airline.


Other carriers?

JetBlue, which is the first carrier that enacted the change fee waiver last month, is noticeably not on the list.  But my take is that they simply haven't updated their policy yet and will soon follow suit.  Southwest already offers by far the most generous cancellation and change policy in the U.S., so they really haven't had to change any policies due to the coronavirus aside from reassure their customers that they frequently sanitize and clean their aircrafts.



Bottom line

The travel industry has suffered tremendously from the coronavirus outbreak, with the airlines taking the front end of the blow.  The legacy carriers have announced significant cuts to both their domestic and international routes, and we are likely to see more cuts and emptier planes.  It's good to see all the major U.S. carriers extend their travel waivers to cover all pre-existing flights.  Before, the waivers were more like a marketing ploy applying to on new reservations through the end of the month.  But now with all new and existing flights being covered, customers who booked prior reservations won't be forced into flying or coughing up change/cancellation fees.

H/T: Travel Codex


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