Delta and American have scrapped change fees following United’s move yesterday announcing it was eliminating them for good. While Delta is simply ending change fees for all geographic areas that United’s announcement covers, American is going further by eliminating change fees on some international itineraries and also allowing customers to fly standby while enhancing its basic economy offering.
Delta eliminates change fees
Delta Air Lines is doing away with change fees. The airline has announced it will, effective immediately, eliminate change fees on tickets for travel within the domestic US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands for all customers whether they are booked in first class, Premium Select, Comfort+, and Main Cabin. Basic economy tickets will not count.
Alongside this, Delta is also amending some of its current waiver policies. Newly purchased flights, including international and basic economy fares, bought through the end of the year, will not incur any change fees. And, travel credits for tickets booked before April 17th have been extended with an expiration date set for December 2022.
Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, stated the following in a release viewed by Simple Flying:
“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. We want our customers to book and travel with peace of mind, knowing that we’ll continue evaluating our policies to maintain the high standard of flexibility they expect.”
American Airlines scraps change fees and adds standby option
American Airlines is eliminating change fees for all domestic and short-haul international flying on fares in its premium cabins and most economy class tickets. Effective immediately, American is waiving change fees for first class, business class, premium economy, and main cabin tickets for flights to the 50 US states, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands. Basic economy fares are excluded.
In addition, one of the banes of changing a flight is having to pay a fare difference– or forfeiting part of one’s ticket value. Now, American Airlines is also allowing customers to keep the full amount of their tickets. If the new flight is less expensive, American will provide a voucher to use on a future flight for the difference in value.
In terms of standby, American Airlines, starting on October 1st, is allowing customers to fly standby on other flights. This applies to flights on the same day for the same origin and destination pairs on international and domestic itineraries, regardless of the ticket purchased.
American’s Chief Revenue Officer, Vasu Raja, stated the following in a release viewed by Simple Flying:
“In a world that’s constantly changing, American is resolute to our purpose of caring for customers at all points of their travel journey. American is offering more flexibility and ease than ever before, should travel plans change. By eliminating change fees, giving customers an opportunity to get where they want to go faster with free same-day standby on earlier flights and providing access to upgrades and seats for all fare types, we’re giving customers the freedom to make their own choices when traveling with American.”
Upgrades to American’s basic economy
Basic economy, the most restrictive fare American offers, is also getting an upgrade. Customers can now purchase products to enhance their travel experience from October 1st and beyond. This includes upgrades, priority boarding, preferred or extra-legroom seats, and same-day confirmed flight changes.
Elite members who purchase a basic economy ticket will also be able to access upgrade privileges and take advantage of seat privileges, including access to preferred and extra-legroom seats. Also, American Airlines will allow elites to take advantage of same-day confirmed flight change benefits.
However, from January 1st, 2021, basic economy tickets will no longer earn elite qualifying dollars, miles, or segments toward future status. So, for frequent fliers, be careful if you decide to book basic economy and are trying to hit status.
What this means for customers
The largest four US airlines (American, Delta, Southwest, and United) are no longer charging change fees for most of their customers. Southwest has, historically, not charged change fees for customers. But, American, Delta, and United started waiving change fees when the crisis began, leading many to speculate that this could be the end of change fees. Now, it is coming true.
Whether or not these no change fees last forever or only until the crisis subsides or if the prices of regular economy tickets goes up, however, remains to be seen.