Airline Change Fee Quick Reference Chart [AA brings back some fees]

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During the pandemic, each of the domestic US airlines has announced that they were eliminating change fees.  That’s awesome.  But the details can be hard to remember.  Which fare classes apply?  Do we keep the fare difference if the new flight is cheaper?  Are standby fees eliminated too?  What’s happening with award change fees?  The answer to each of these questions differs by airline.  This post offers a few quick reference tables to answer those questions.

UPDATE 6/22/22: We removed the COVID waiver section of this post. Also updated to account for recent AA changes:

  • As of 6/10/22, AA has brought back change fees for flights originating in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific

Paid Fare Change Fees

Here are the situations in which change fees are waived:

AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue
Basic Economy Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived
All other paid tickets Fees waived on flights originating anywhere except Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Fees waived on all flights originating in North America. Fees waived on all flights originating in the United States or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean Fees waived for all routes Fees waived for all routes Fees waived for all routes
What if new flight is cheaper? Fare difference preserved for future flight Fare difference preserved for future flight
Fare difference preserved for future flight Fare difference preserved for future flight Fare difference preserved for future flight Greg’s guess: Fare difference preserved for future flight

Award Ticket Fees

Here are the situations in which award change fees are permanently waived post-pandemic:

AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue
Basic Economy Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived Fees NOT waived
Change Fees Waived for These Routes: Fees waived on flights originating anywhere except Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Fees waived on all flights originating in North America. Fees waived for all routes when changed more than 30 days before. Fees also waived within 30 days for flights originating in U.S. Change fees waived for all routes Change fees waived for all routes Change fees waived for all routes
Cancellation Fees Waived for These Routes: Cancellation fees waived for all flights originating anywhere except Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Fees waived on all flights originating in North America. Cancellation fees waived for all routes when cancelled more than 30 days before departure. Cancellation fees waived for all routes N/A. Hawaiian charges $30.00 for tickets wholly within Hawaii; $150.00 all other tickets
Cancelation fees waived for all routes

Same Day Changes

Only AA, Delta, and United have announced the elimination of same day change fees.  This chart shows the current rules as to who gets free changes (to the best of my knowledge):

AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue
Same Day Standby
Free for all members as of Oct 1 2020. Free for all members as of Aug 2021. Free for all members as of Jan 1 2021. See note for rules** See note for rules***
Same Day Confirmed
Free for select flights and members* Free for Gold elite & higher Free for all elite (Premier) members. Free for MVP Gold or when booked on fully refundable tickets   Free for Mosaic members or Blue Extra fares

* AA offers free same day confirmed changes for AAdvantage® Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro status (and companions in same reservation), oneworld® Emerald members with elite status on Alaska Airlines, and those flying award tickets or Unrestricted Economy (Y fare), Business, First, AirPass.

** Alaska offers standby at no cost only if your travel meets one of these conditions: 1) You are traveling on a nonstop flight between: Anchorage and Fairbanks; Seattle and Portland; or Seattle and Spokane; or 2) You have a refundable First Class or Main Cabin ticket; or 3) You are an MVP® Gold Mileage Plan member.

*** Hawaiian Airlines offers same day standby for flights to neighboring islands only for Gold and Platinum elites, and Corporate customers who booked through their corporate portal.

Other Changes and Enhancements

United allows customers to pay to change basic economy to economy

Basic economy tickets are usually nonrefundable and non-changeable, except when covid or other waivers are in place.  Now, though, United has added the option to pay $45 each way to upgrade from basic economy to regular economy so that you can change your flight as needed.  Details can be found here.

Delta eliminates 72 hour award change rule for domestic flights

Delta has issued the following statement:

Effective immediately, Delta is making the following permanent changes for travel within the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands):

  • Eliminating the $150 redeposit fee to cancel an award ticket and the $150 reissue fee to change an award ticket for all SkyMiles Members. This covers travel on all tickets, excluding Basic Economy fares.
  • Allowing changes and cancellations on award tickets before departure for all SkyMiles Members, excluding Basic Economy fares. No longer will changes and cancellations made within 72 hours of departure result in the loss of miles on domestic award tickets.

AA Changes Basic Economy

American Airlines announced a number of changes to basic economy:

Later this fall, members who have achieved Elite status with the AAdvantage® program will receive the benefits they’re accustomed to no matter the ticket they purchase. In addition to enjoying Priority Access/Preferred Boarding, our elite members who purchase a Basic Economy fare will now be able to access their:

  • Upgrade privileges.
  • Elite seat privileges, including access to Main Cabin Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats.
  • Same-day confirmed flight change benefit.

Effective Jan. 1, 2021, Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn elite qualifying dollars, miles or segments toward future status.

As airlines continue eliminating change fees, we’ll continue to update this post.

Previous Updates to this Post

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Vaibhav Shetge

Hey guys, Just checking if the information here plans to be updated. Some of the fields mention expiration date, so dont know if there were new changes

Nun

The chart says fees aren’t waived for AA basic economy awards. I think that doesn’t exist. I’ve never seen an AA basic economy award.

[…] many airlines have had flexible change and cancellation policies due to the pandemic, the difficult thing has been navigating what happens to the various credits. Under the current […]

HoKo

Hey Greg / Nick, this is a great resource, I have a couple suggestions for you that I think would improve it even further:

  1. Add this change/cancel fees page to the resources tab (another good one to add to the resources tab would be your recently created credit-card-free-baggage page). Maybe create a new sub-section in the resources page for these types of articles. 
  2. Update the UA section to reflect this policy (which I believe would set UA apart from the competition): https://thepointsguy.com/news/united-change-basic-economy-tickets/
  3. Include some of the more popular foreign airlines (off the top of my head I would love to see BA/IB, Lifemiles, Aeroplan, and Turkish added). If it’s too crowded/complicated to fit all of this information into one table then maybe you could create a separate table for the popular International carriers.
  4. Specifically for award tickets, if you cancel, I think all of the domestic carriers will refund the taxes/fees paid back to the original payment method. Is there ever a scenario where you’d receive the taxes/fees back in the form of an airline credit/voucher (hence you’d need to use it within 12 months). This would be a useful piece of info to include.
  5. For the section discussing the travel credit issued if the new flight is cheaper AND/OR the credit issued if you cancel a cash ticket, it would be helpful if you called out (1) How many months the credit is good for – I assume 12 months? (2) What is the start date for counting that 12 month window – I assume it is the date you purchased the ticket?
  6. For the same-day-changes table, it would be helpful if you called out whether or not these policies apply to both cash AND award tickets. If there is different treatment for one versus the other, then I think it would make sense to expand the table to specifically address the policies for each type of ticket.
  7. A further wrinkle related to the same day changes is if you used a partner airline’s miles. For example, lets say you booked AA metal DCA-JFK using Avios, do AA’s same-day-change policies apply just the same as if you had booked using AA miles?
  8. Clarify the language in the UA “Award Ticket Fees” section. Currently it just says “US 50 States, Mexico, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands” <—This is open to interpretation, does it mean flights originating in one of these places? Flights to one of these places? Any flights that touch one of these places (regardless of whether it’s the inbound or outbound flight)? You get the idea.
Greg The Frequent Miler

Lots of great suggestions, thanks!
1. Will do soon
2. Done (added section near bottom)
8. Done
The rest will have to wait until I have more time to research.

HoKo

Happy to help, and glad it was well received 🙂

joe

Want to add a DP for Delta. Their twitter support is incredibly helpful, was able to change a basic economy flight 4 hours from departure with no fees, they even credited me the difference

Greg The Frequent Miler

Awesome!

Jon

Can confirm Alaska will issue an ecredit if the new fare is lower after changing a flight

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks! I updated that section of the post.

Dongbing

so now I can change my AA award ticket without paying any fee and have my miles redeposited into my account ?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yep

andy

Is this true if you use AA miles to fly on someone else’s metal? Same question for the other currencies in your super helpful award chart.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes to both.

Jeff

Really useful, but there should be another row for Paid fare, post-pandemic, _cancellation_, in addition to change. You have that for award flights but not paid. If no one is offering that it would still be useful to have it as a reference in the table. Thanks for the work.

John

Agreed. If I paid for a one way cash ticket from Mexico to the US but need to cancel, what will happen?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Great suggestion. I believe that in all paid ticket cases you get a credit good for a year. I’ll have to double check that and add a row for it.

alcwj

also carry on baggage fee

Peter

Greg, can you please confirm if the following recent statement is accurate
“Alaska airlines Partner award bookings made on or after May 1, 2021 may be canceled online for no fee”.

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/policies/how-to-manage-my-reservation#:~:text=Partner%20award%20bookings%20made%20on,%2C%20chat%2C%20or%20call%20reservations.

I just want to make sure that if I make a partner reservation (e.g., Emirates), it can be easily canceled without a redeposit fee.

Also please clarify the United partner international award booking cancellation policy in your table (if the partner award flight is originating and landing outside the US (e.g., SAS booking from LHR to OSLO)).

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes, my understanding is that all award bookings (including those where Alaska is not the operating carrier, like emirates) using Alaska miles may be canceled for no fee.

United: I think that United does still charge fees for awards that originate outside of the US, Mexico, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands

Peter

Please update the table under Alaska airline award ticket cancellation fee policy to reflect the updated information so it will help other readers. It currently says “Details Not Yet Announced”.

Thx

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks. I didn’t realize that was still written that way. Updated.

Josh

what about spirit?

Billy Bob

United extended the expiry date of some Travel Bank funds too.

Points Adventure

Thanks for updating this resource, Greg. For Hawaiian, it says customer loses residual value if new flight is cheaper. Is this a new development? I have a cancelled ticket with them and made sure over multiple calls in Dec 2020 that the residual value is NOT lost. There’s also a Flyertalk post around the same time confirming this in the Hawaii-based airlines forum.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks for this. I’m not sure where I got that info but I see now on the Hawaiian website that you should keep the residual value. I’ve updated the post.

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

GREG — Is the workaround for the Cancel Fee on United Award tix when less than 30 days to change to a date far ahead and then cancel should you wish to do so???

Many thanks!

I was thinking the same. I’d expect that to work, but I haven’t tested it.

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

Thank you!

[…] This is a good reference chart: Airlines eliminate change fees: Quick reference chart (New: JetBlue eliminates fees). […]

Matt

Hi Greg, under the “Award Ticket Fees” chart, you have written for Jetblue: “Change/Cancellation fees waived except for Blue Basic awards“. I don’t think you can use points to book Blue Basic tickets. If you book with points, the lowest ticket level is “Blue” (and the price in points is calculated off the cash price of the Blue ticket bracket). I always thought that was dumb, but at least award tix will still get a free carryon bag.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Good catch Matt. Fixed.

[…] that kind of flexibility. However, COVID-19 has changed things on that front, with many airlines eliminating change and cancellation fees. You can (at least in many cases) get similar flexibility with the major carriers, so […]

[…] fees survive the COVID-19 era, the daydream of their elimination seems like a lost cause. Given the near total elimination of change and cancellation fees from the major US airlines, I remain surprised and disappointed that hotels haven’t felt pressure to get rid of these […]

[…] though, Delta has made most award changes and cancellations free to everyone.  All award flights originating in North America offer free changes and cancellations.  This makes the Platinum elite free change benefit nearly worthless: it will only be useful for […]

Rich T

So for Delta Award tickets overseas, it sounds like I’ll have to book a round trip originating in North America to have free cancellation. I like booking separate one way flights, but my return flights would still have the $150 rebank miles fee. I guess this is still an advantage to Delta Platinum status.

Bill

Can someone link to a United policy that aligns with the post-pandemic policy stated above. The United twitter team told me several days ago that flights departing in 2021, the award cancellation fee is $75 (if done greater than 60 days out) and $125 (less than 60 days out).

Corridor

Can you provide a link to show where you can cancel an award flight for free on United 30 days out? I can only find where it says 60 days.

TIA

Greg The Frequent Miler

Sure: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/change-fee.html

Will you still charge a redeposit fee for award travel?

Yes, but only for travel within 30 days. This applies for both domestic and international travel.

[…] Airlines eliminate change fees: Quick reference chart [Delta & United copy AA and waive internat… […]

[…] Fees for International Flights. Well, as is often the case, United copied Delta and…here is a quick reference chart with all fee changes by the […]

Rich T

Thanks for comparison. Delta domestic policy includes free rebanking of award ticket miles but the new Intnl. extension doesn’t? Really? Disappointed that Delta didn’t replicate American’s policy more precisely.

Greg The Frequent Miler

I expect we’ll hear from Delta soon that this policy does extend to award tickets. I’ll update this chart if/when that happens.

JoeSchmo

Hi Greg – thanks for the helpful chart. It would be great to also have a resource for hotels showing, for example, which ones give free parking on award stay, waive resort charts for top tier members, etc. Does such a chart exist that I overlooked?

bw213

Can I change the route of a ticket? Or even change the traveler?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Route: Yes. Traveler: No (this latter answer may vary by airline though — I’m not certain).

bw213

Thanks!

bw213

I wanted to take advantage of the amex offer on Delta purchase for some travel next year (but not sure of the destination right now). It’s good to know I can change the route.

[…] See also: Airlines eliminate change fees: Quick reference chart […]

[…] freely changeable and refundable.  Now, though, the distinction has blurred.  For all customers, Delta no longer charges change or cancellation fees for domestic flights regardless of whether they are booked with cash or as awards.  The advantage of award tickets over […]

[…] they announced it in February, that likelihood has hopefully reduced seeing as airlines have been forced to implement more customer-friendly policies such as eliminating change […]

Josh

Could you please add Spirit airlines to this chart? Thanks 🙂

[…] Having a hard time keeping track of all the pro consumer no more fee changes in the airlines, here is a nice recap. […]

Rosie

What if you get an award ticket now (before 12/31/20), for travel before 12/31/20), and you need to cancel — can you redeposit the miles without a fee? Your chart only references tickets issued after 12/31/20.
Thanks for this info!

Rosie

Any thoughts on this?

Greg The Frequent Miler

I’ve been trying to find time to investigate this. The airlines don’t make it obvious what happens. I am hoping to update this post with that info in the next week or two though

Paul

Very helpful to have this summary. Thanks.

[…] Airlines eliminate change fees: Quick reference chart […]

Anthony

I’d love it if Avianca Lifemiles would join the party. Also too bad the Amex Airline fee credits can’t help for an Avianca charge.

[…] Airlines eliminate change fees: Quick reference chart [United now includes Mexico and Caribbean] is what I’ll reference before booking my next flight. […]

Mike

What about cancelation fees? Are they zero now?

If I cancel a flight, will I get all the funds back for ANY future flight? or do I have to CHANGE the flight to a different one when I cancel?

Greg The Frequent Miler

I *think* that if you cancel you’ll get back travel funds for that airline and can apply those funds to any flight

[…] Remember that all flights booked this year, including basic economy, can be changed for free (see our chart of airline change fee rules).  So, book now, and change later (if necessary).  You’ll see below, that many of the best […]

SoSo

To clarify, under the award travel: Fees for canceling awards and redepositing miles after 12/31/20 is not correct. It should be Fees for canceling awards and redepositing miles ISSUED after 12/31/20. You should be able to buy an award ticket in 2020, and cancel/deposit for free in 2021. Am I right?

Last edited 1 year ago by SoSo
Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes, that’s right. I’ve updated it.

Zooplankton

Just to make sure when you said “Change fees waived in all fare classes” for award ticket, do you mean any award ticket disregard it’s international/domestic route or partner airline(e.g. book EVA airline with UA miles)? thanks.

Greg The Frequent Miler

That’s my understanding, yes. We haven’t yet seen detailed terms though.

Jim

What about AA web specials?

Greg The Frequent Miler

That’s a great question. AA’s announcement simply said that the changes apply to award tickets as well. My guess is that it might not apply to web specials. We probably won’t have full details until maybe December.

J.J.

Take this with a grain of salt, but the Alaska Airlines Twitter team said change fees will still apply to partner award tickets.That would have been the most valuable aspect for me.

Greg The Frequent Miler

I hope they were wrong about that!

[…] in the excitement about airlines eliminating change fees was the announcement from American Airlines that their elites will no longer be punished while […]

[…] Airlines eliminate change fees: Quick reference chart [Added Hawaiian Airlines] […]

[…] Bye Bye Change Fees?:  The airline industry has taken huge hits to their bottom line with the pandemic, and they’re pulling out all the stops to try to lure people to fly.  One of the big 3 US airlines announced the elimination of change fees, and the others are following suit! […]

OR97

Do you know how it would work with Alaska partner award tickets? Thank you

Greg The Frequent Miler

My understanding is that if you use Alaska miles to book partner flights you should get free changes. We’ll have to wait until they roll out full details to know for sure.

OR97

Thanks! I reviewed it over and over and thought it was just a bit vague in this area.

[…] is a summary of the changes in the form of easy to read tables. And now here is a comprehensive guide of all fees updated as of September 1, 2020. And in the […]

Gordon

If the new flight is more expensive, then is the fare difference charged?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes

Stvr

Can awards be redeposited for free right now for travel before 12-31-20? It’s never been clear to me.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Honestly I don’t know.

Ben

“Change fees waived for travel more than 60 days out AND for travel within US 50 States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands”

That should be an OR:

“Change fees waived for travel more than 60 days out internationally OR anytime before departure for travel within US 50 States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands”

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks. I separated it into two sentences to avoid confusion.

Infoguy

You may want to add info about whose policies apply to pre-covid Tix..for example ticket issued in Jan20 for travel in Feb20

Zzzz

why?