Comparison At a Glance of Change Fees and Standby Fees of Legacy Airlines in the United States

Five airlines officially announced during the past few days radical changes pertaining to the elimination of change fees, standby fees, and same-day confirmed fees — as well as other changes — but what exactly does that mean when comparing those airlines?

Comparison At a Glance of Change Fees and Standby Fees of Legacy Airlines in the United States

First are some definitions of what each of those terms generally mean — they can vary from airline to airline — as the following fees are imposed when you change the flight you originally purchased on your ticket:

  • Change — to confirm a change to your ticket:
    • To a different flight at a different time
    • To a different flight on a different day
    • To a different destination airport
    • From a different origination airport
    • Any combination thereof, depending on the rules of the airline
  • StandbyIf a seat is available within the fare class of the ticket which you originally purchased, you can change your ticket to a confirmed seat on a new flight — usually earlier on the same day. Waiting standby for a flight does not guarantee that you will be on that airplane; and the standby fee is only charged if you are cleared for your requested flight.
  • Same-Day Confirmed — allows you to confirm a seat on a different flight on your day of departure on which eligible seats are available. The alternate flight must be for your same origination airport and destination airport; and your flight change can only be confirmed within 24 hours of departure of the desired flight. Sometimes different airports which serve the same city are included.

Comparison Chart At a Glance

As a result of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, the waiver for new tickets issued through Thursday, December 31, 2020 is being extended by Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines to permit unlimited changes to tickets with no fee. This policy applies to all ticket types in all fare classes — including Basic Economy fares and award tickets — and it is valid for both domestic and international travel.

After the year 2020 has concluded, the following chart compares fees at a glance between Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines — along with links to the sources with additional information, where applicable — for your convenience.

Policy Change
Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Hawaiian Airlines
United Airlines
Immediate Elimination of Change Fee on Domestic Flights Complimentary for all passengers — except $125.00 for Saver fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except starting at $30.00 for Main Cabin Basic fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets
Change Fee on International Flights Complimentary for all tickets — except $125.00 for Saver fare tickets — to Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica Complimentary for Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean Region, and select refundable tickets — otherwise, between $200.00 and $750.00 per ticket Complimentary for select refundable tickets — otherwise, between $200.00 and $500.00 per ticket
Complimentary for all tickets — except at $30.00 for Main Cabin Basic fare tickets — to Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, and Tahiti Complimentary for Mexico and the Caribbean; and for select refundable tickets — otherwise, starting at $200.00 per ticket
Fee to Stand By for a Different Flight on the Same Day Complimentary for refundable tickets; Mileage Plan members who earned MVP Gold elite level status; or nonstop flights between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Seattle and Portland, and Seattle and Spokane Fee eliminated effective as of Thursday, October 1, 2020 Fees start at $75.00 — otherwise, complimentary for SkyMiles members who earned Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion elite level status Standby travel is not permitted within the state of Hawaii — otherwise, fees start at $30.00 for inter-island travel within Hawaii; and $150.00 to all other destinations Fee eliminated effective as of Friday, January 1, 2021
Fee for Confirmed Change to a Different Flight on the Same Day Fees start at $25.00 for select shuttle flights and $50.00 for all other flights Fee eliminated effective as of Thursday, October 1, 2020 Fees start at $75.00 — otherwise, complimentary for SkyMiles members who earned Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion elite level status
Details not announced as of yet Fees start at $75.00 — otherwise, complimentary for MileagePlus members who earned 1K, Platinum, or Gold Premier elite level status
If the new paid fare is less expensive after successfully changing flights on the ticket… The difference in the fare is preserved for a future flight Details not announced as of yet Details not announced as of yet The difference in the fare is lost and cannot be recovered
The difference in the fare is lost and cannot be recovered
Fee for changing award tickets issued after Thursday, December 31, 2020 Waived for all flights on all routes Waived for travel greater than 60 days out and for travel within all 50 states of the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands Details not announced as of yet Waived for all flights on all routes Waived for travel within all 50 states of the United States, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands
Fee for canceling awards and redepositing miles after Thursday, December 31, 2020 Details not announced as of yet Details not announced as of yet Details not announced as of yet
Starting at $30.00 for inter-island travel within Hawaii; and $150.00 to all other destinations Waived for travel greater than 30 days out

Keep in mind that for the purpose of the aforementioned chart, domestic flights in the United States include Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands — but not including other territories of the United States.

Summary

I hope that the comparison chart and information in this article is of use to you.

If any information in this article changes, is inaccurate, needs to be added, or needs to be deleted, please let me know in the Comments section below or contact me so that I can improve the accuracy of the information for future reference. Thank you in advance.

Photographs and composite image ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Comparison At a Glance of Change Fees and Standby Fees of Legacy Airlines in the United States”

  1. r m h says:

    thanks!

    concise. clear. perfecto!

  2. Jules says:

    Great chart. Thank you!

  3. NB_ga says:

    Excellent resource!

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