• Sunday, September 27, 2020

airline change fees

The End of Change Fees - Forever?
September 2, 2020
By , Founder

This one is hot off the presses. United announced that it is eliminating domestic change fees forever. Not just until the end of COVID. Not until the end of 2021. Forever. As in ever and ever. Is it a PR move? Will it last? Well not to be outdone, within 24 hours, Delta and American followed suit and also announced that they would also abolish domestic change fees on airline reservations.  

This pandemic has hit the travel industry hard.  Arguably even more so than restaurants, who are allowed to at least operate and serve a basic need like food and shelter, travel has been dramatically impacted.  According to IATA, the global travel industry group, airlines lost over $84 billion in 2020 and will continue to lose around $15 billion, give or take, in 2021.  For those not into math, that’s almost $100 billion dollars impacting the airline industry, which is critical for more than just taking your annual holiday.  They transport medical workers, reunite families, and are the backbone of American business, when it comes back, which it will.  It makes it challenging to operate though when your business is down 93% from a year ago, which is the case with Delta.  So it’s no surprise that the airlines are doing everything they can to incentivize people to travel again.  

On the fine print, Delta will eliminate change fees on all tickets except Basic Economy within the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  American’s policy will extend to Main Cabin and Premium Cabin fares for all domestic and short-haul international flights.   

Right now, most airlines are waiving change fees so there’s not a change to the status quo for traveling in the current pandemic situation in substance, but it’s a strong statement from a PR perspective to say forever.  Whether or not this will stick when demand will increase to previous 2020 levels remains to be seen, but for now enjoy all the flexibility to change to your heart’s desire.