Alaska Airlines And JetBlue Waive Change Fees Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways, America’s sixth and seventh largest airlines respectively, recently announced they will be introducing waivers for all change and cancellation fees incurred as a result of fears surrounding coronavirus.

JetBlue New York La Guardia
JetBlue says it will offer credit for all flights booked between 27 February and 11 March. Photo: Getty Images

Cases of coronavirus appear to be increasing significantly in many regions outside of Asia. The outbreak, which first gained widespread international coverage in January, has had a severe effect on international travel and the movement of people across the world. Hundreds of thousands of flights have had to be canceled as governments attempt to halt the spread of the disease outside of Asia.

Now, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways have become the latest US airlines to introduce fee waivers for any passengers who decide not to fly as a result of coronavirus worries. They join the likes of United Airlines, which recently announced it would be waiving change fees for passengers flying on certain routes.

JetBlue’s fee waivers

JetBlue, which made its announcement on Wednesday, has taken the bold step of offering fee waivers on all new flight bookings made from 27 February through to 11 March. This will apply to all flights scheduled to be completed by 1 June. This move marks a big shift from previous coronavirus fee waiver policies announced by other airlines. The main difference here is that it applies to all JetBlue flights, which are not associated with travel to Asia.

Discussing the new policy, JetBlue’s president and chief operating officer, Joanna Geraghty, said, “While authorities have not issued any travel restrictions to the locations we fly, we want to give our customers some peace of mind that we are ready to support them should the situation change.”

Although passengers will not be able to receive cash refunds, they will receive the full value of their flight tickets as travel credit which can be used for other JetBlue flights.

JetBlue Airbus A321
JetBlue says it wants to uphold its reputation for excellent customer service. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

Alaska Airlines’ fee waivers

Alaska Airlines announced its fee waiver policy the day after JetBlue did. Alaska Airlines’ policy looks to be largely the same as JetBlue, although it will apply to flights booked between 27 February and 12 March. The credit given back after cancellation will be available to use on other Alaska Airlines flights up to a year after it is awarded.

In a press release, Alaska Airlines appears to state its fee waivers are only applicable to customers who are canceling flights due to fears over coronavirus. It’s not clear whether this is a strict rule and it seems like a means of determining whether or not a booking has been canceled due to coronavirus fears would be difficult to enforce.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines followed suit with its own fee waiver announcement on Thursday. Photo: LoadedAaron via Flickr

Regardless of the specifics of the fee waiver rules of either airline, the news will offer passengers a peace of mind which they may have been lacking up until now.

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, allowing people to cancel flights without repercussions should help stem the spread of the disease any further, as potential new carriers of the virus will be able to remain at home. The remaining US carriers who have not announced their own fee waiver policies will likely do so very soon.

Have you had to cancel or postpone a trip due to the virus outbreak? Let us know in the comments.