***Update on 09/06/2020 @ 00:16UTC – Updated Hawaiian’s change policies***
Following last Sunday’s decision by United Airlines to scrap ticket change fees, we decided to see which US carriers still charge for this service. In a bid to help convince people to start flying again as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby made a bold move.
When citing customer’s feedback, the 53-year-old airline executive announced that United Airlines was getting rid of its $200 fee for changing tickets. As we predicted, United’s main competitors American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, had no choice but to follow United’s lead. Less than 24 hours after United’s announcement, both companies said they too were stopping charging for ticket changes.
They charged $200 to change a ticket
During an industry downturn in 2008, airlines started to look for ancillary ways to produce revenue to make up for losses. They did this by charging for checked bags, ticket changing, priority boarding, and extra legroom. The $200 ticket change policy drew particular scorn because all it involved was a few keystrokes on a computer far exceeding the airline’s cost of changing the ticket.
According to CNBC, ticket change and cancelation fees earned US carriers $2.8 billion in revenue last year, down from a peak of $3 billion in 2015. While saying that they were scrapping the ticket change charges, only Chicago-based United Airlines said it would be a permanent move.
This means that once things recover and we get back to 2019 levels, these change fees and other charges might start to creep back in with American and Delta. Having said that, it is hard to imagine the dreaded tariff returning as long as one of the big three makes it company policy.
For now and the foreseeable future, airlines are doing all they can to convince people that it is safe to fly and know that any positive publicity is good. Below is a list of other US carriers and their policies regarding fees for changing tickets.
Seattle-based Alaska Airlines followed suit, announcing that it was no longer charging for ticket changes on domestic and international travel. Previously the airline charged $125 if you needed to make a change to your itinerary. Basic economy tickets continue to charge change fees.
Hawaiian Airlines is no longer charging change fees on inter-island, mainland U.S., and international flights. Previously, tickets could be canceled seven or more days before departure without penalty if requested within 24 hours of purchase. Changing an inter-island flight on Hawaiian Airlines used to cost $30 and any difference in the ticket price. If the new fare was less than the original fare, Hawaiian will not refund the difference. For international flights, it will cost you $300 to change or cancel your ticket. Basic economy tickets will continue to cost for change fees.
Besides Blue Flex tickets where changes are permitted, JetBlue charges $75 for ticket changes and cancellations made 60 days before the departure date. This fee is based on tickets that are $100 or less.
Tickets between $100 and $150 pay a $100 penalty while tickers between $150 and $200 are charged $150. Any ticket valued at $200 or more is liable to a $200 change or cancelation fee. If the change is made more than 60 days before departure, the customer must pay the ticket price difference.
You can change or cancel your ticket without a charge so long as the changes are made within 24 hours of purchasing the ticket and that the departure is more than seven days away. Other than this, Spirit will charge $90 if you make the changes online or $100 if you do it at the airport or over the telephone.
If you want to change your ticket 90 days before departure, it is free. If you wish to change your ticket in less than 90 days but longer than two weeks, you have to pay $49. Any changes or cancelations made less than 13 days from the departure date will incur a fee of $99.
Passengers who purchase an Allegiant Flex ticket can make changes or cancel up to one hour before departure without charge. All other tickets will be charged a fee of $75 if you change or cancel at least seven days before departure. No changes or refunds are allowed on any but Flex tickets less than seven days before departure.
The world’s largest low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines has never in its history charged a fee for changing a ticket! The only rule is that if the new ticket price is higher, the customer must pay the difference. If the original ticket price is lower, Southwest will give you the price difference in a voucher that can be used for future travel.
Altogether, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many airlines have relaxed their policies when it comes to changing or canceling tickets.
Before making a booking, please visit the airline website for all the latest information.
What other changes could the airlines make to help get people flying again? Please let us know what you think in the comments