Delta Air Lines Eliminates ALL Change Fees — Well…ALMOST All…Plus…

Effective immediately, Delta Air Lines has eliminated change fees for all long-haul international flying when travel originates in North America or South America — and this new policy includes passengers who purchased tickets with Delta One, First Class, Comfort+ and Main Cabin fares — which matches the previous announcement from Delta Air Lines to get rid of change fees on most domestic flights and follows the lead of American Airlines

Delta Air Lines Eliminates ALL Change Fees — Well…ALMOST All…Plus…

Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200 airplane

Photograph ©2011 by Brian Cohen.

…but the new policy does not include Basic Economy fares, with which change fees will still exist; and it also does not seem to include travel which originates elsewhere in the world other than in North America.

This means that Delta Air Lines allows you to keep the full value of eligible tickets if you change your travel plans prior to your scheduled travel. Although you will be required to pay the fare difference for a new flight, you will not lose the value of your ticket if the new flight is less expensive.

…The Extension of the Waiver of No Change Fees For Existing Tickets

The waiver of change fees for all tickets for domestic and international flights which have been purchased have been extended through Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

That still leaves American Airlines with arguably the best choice of international destinations of all of the airlines which have announced the elimination of change fees, according to the following chart, which has also been updated in this article which 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 all tickets — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets and flights which originate outside of North America and South America Complimentary for all tickets — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets and flights which originate outside of North America
Complimentary for all tickets — except at $150.00 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 The difference in the fare is preserved for a future flight 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 all flights on all routes 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 Fee eliminated effective as of Wednesday, November 11, 2020 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

Summary

Do not be surprised if other airlines — such as United Airlines — enact similar policies to those which were recently announced from American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Lastly, I do want you to remember this statement from a quote attributed to Edward Bastian, who is the current chief executive officer for Delta Air Lines:

“No year has better demonstrated the value of flexibility than this one. Our approach has always been to put people first, which is why we’re extending our current change fee waiver and making lasting changes to our practices, so customers have the trust and confidence they need long after the pandemic ends.”

Seriously? We had to experience a worldwide pandemic to teach you that flexibility in travel is key for customers? I could have told you that years ago. Where were you when customers were complaining about increasingly restrictive policies coupled with ancillary fees which were designed to increase revenue as the top priority?

Perhaps I am being unreasonably skeptical; but I am curious to see how that statement holds up long after the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has subsided and has been officially declared as ended…

All photographs ©2011 and ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Delta Air Lines Eliminates ALL Change Fees — Well…ALMOST All…Plus…”

  1. Barry Graham says:

    Brian
    Thanks for this article. Here are a few points:

    It’s not entirely correct to say that for Delta, “Fee for Confirmed Change to a Different Flight on the Same Day” is zero for certain Medallion Members. It’s only been free up until now if the same class of service is available. I don’t think they have changed that limitation but I am happy to be proven wrong if anyone can point me to a link that shows the policy will be changing.

    Nothing is free. Until now, those people that needed the flexibility either paid full fare or booked a cheap ticket and risked having to pay a change fee. With the new changes, nobody will want to book a full fare unless they need to be able to get a refund. So not only will Delta be losing the revenue from full fare tickets but they will also be losing the change fee revenue. I am guessing they will need to reduce the number of seats available in the lower fare classes to make up for this.

    Nevertheless, this is a great move by Delta. As you say, it’s a pity we had to wait for a pandemic for this to happen.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You bring up good points as usual, Barry Graham.

      Thank you.

  2. Barry Graham says:

    So nice! Happy Chanukah.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Happy Chanukah to you too, Barry Graham!

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