Hawaiian Airlines Eliminates Change Fees Permanently — And Comparison Chart Update Between Five Airlines

Change fees have been eliminated on a permanent basis on all standard economy class tickets and premium class tickets for all domestic travel within the United States on all flights operated by Hawaiian Airlines effective as of today, Thursday, September 3, 2020 — which includes both revenue tickets and award tickets — and no limit exists as to how many times customers adjust their flights…

Hawaiian Airlines Eliminates Change Fees Permanently — And Comparison Chart Update Between Five Airlines

…but unlike the lead of United Airlines — which officially announced the elimination of change fees on Sunday, August 30, 2020 — and unlike similar policies which were announced by Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines — change fees will also be eliminated on all international flights which are operated by Hawaiian Airlines, which includes destinations such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, and Tahiti. Those destinations are in addition to the ones which are in Hawaii and the mainland United States.

That leaves Hawaiian 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 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 $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 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

The exception is that passengers who purchase a Main Cabin Basic ticket will still be required to pay a change fee of at least $30.00 for each change which is implemented.

The waiver for new tickets issued through Thursday, December 31, 2020 is being extended by Hawaiian Airlines to permit unlimited changes to tickets with no fee. This policy applies to all ticket types — including Main Cabin Basic fares and award tickets — and it is valid for both domestic and international travel.

Summary

“Do not be surprised if other airlines — such as Delta Air Lines and American Airlines — enact similar policies” is what I wrote in this article pertaining to United Airlines eliminating change fees in the United States. I did not expect that the policies would change so soon after the announcement from United Airlines — nor did I expect Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines to jump on the change fee elimination bandwagon.

The elimination of change fees by Hawaiian Airlines on all domestic and international flights is definitely more impressive than the elimination of change fees of United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines, as those airlines cannot claim that — and even though Alaska Airlines has a similar policy to Hawaiian Airlines, its international destinations are limited only to Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Unfortunately, Hawaiian Airlines mentions nothing about the elimination of fees to stand by for a different flight on the same day, which is disappointing.

The elimination of change fees is not new in the commercial airline industry in the United States, however, as Southwest Airlines does not charge change fees to its customers as well.

Lastly, I do want you to remember this sentence from a quote attributed to Peter Ingram, who is the president and chief executive officer for Hawaiian Airlines:

“We know our guests’ plans change for a variety of reasons, and we want them to book a flight with confidence and the flexibility to travel when they are ready to take that special Hawai‘i vacation, visit friends and relatives or do business on our neighbor islands.”

Seriously? We had to experience a worldwide pandemic to teach you that flexibility in travel is key? 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…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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