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Thursday, September 3, 2020

U.S. airlines eliminate some ticket change fees permanently - find out which airlines have done so and which of them included Canada


 

At the start of this week news broke from United Airlines that they were permanently removing some of those dreaded fees that airlines charge when making changes to tickets. It didn't take long for other U.S. based airlines to follow suit as American and Delta removed fees next and then followed by Alaska Airlines. There is no word yet here in Canada whether our airlines will follow suit and do away with at least some of those pesky fees but I don't hold my hopes up. In fact WestJet just increased some fees on domestic flights citing increased fees from Nav Canada. That being said, most Canadian airlines do offer at least one change to tickets for free based on the current COVID-19 circumstances and that is also what the U.S. airlines have been doing but with this weeks news have gone on to not just consider COVID but make those changes permanent.

United Airlines

As United was first out of the gate with the news here is what they are changing in regards to these fees. They are permanently removing change fees for most economy and premium class tickets for travel within the U.S. (including Alaska, Hawaii Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands) This change doesn't help us Canadians very much unless you are booking a purely U.S. itinerary. United's COVID policy will cover flights out of Canada until the end of the year however after that it is entirely possible those flights will once again incur change fees. This same policy is in effect for Basic Economy fares and other international flights on United.

Image courtesy of United

 United also added free same day standby for any flights in their network.

Learn more about United's changes here.

American Airlines

American Airlines took what United did, copied it and went one step further - they included Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico for destination where the ticket change fees were removed from.  Ticket types are the same as United's in that it covers all types except Basic Economy. However AA will waive fees on Basic Economy and other International flights until the end of the year as part of their pandemic policy.

Image courtesy of AA

 

American will also offer free same day standby as of October 1st. They are also allowing those who buy Basic Economy fares to buy extras like upgrades, priority boarding and others as of October 1.

Learn more about AA's changes here.

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines copied United to a tee and didn't expand it like AA did. This means Delta has eliminatied change fees for travel within the domestic U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. It covers pretty much all fare classes except Basic Economy tickets.And just like AA and United, Delta is waiving fees on all fares and flights until the end of December.

Learn more about Delta's changes here.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska was the last out of these four to announce the elimination of ticket changes fees and they chose to be like American Airlines and expand on what is offered beyond what United first set out. Alaska went beyond by eliminating ticket change fees for their entire network which means the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Just like all the other airlines this elimination covers all fares except their lowest saver fare. Where Alaska went one step further is that they have also eliminated the change and cancellatoin fees on Mileage Plus award tickets that for travel on Alaska Airlines.

Learn more about Alaska'a change here.

What about Canada?

As you can see, American and Alaska have included us Canadians in their policies so it is possibly something the two big Canadian airlines may be eyeing. However given the current travel situation, both Alaska and American have very flights from Canada and not many Canadians are even traveling to the U.S.. If history is any indication Canadian airlines tend not to follow U.S. or other international carries with removing revenue sources (they do like to copy policies that increase revenue) so I don't suspect our carriers will follow suit just yet. Given that the airlines have pandemic policies in place already granting some change fee waivers it is entirely possible they'll just keep extending that policy until travel levels return to a somewhat normal level and then start charging everyone again. 

Title image via AA


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