Airline Change Fee Quick Reference Chart [New positive United changes]

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Recently, each of the domestic US airlines has announced that they are 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 8/14/21: United has followed Delta’s lead with similar changes:

  • Added a new COVID related waiver: Customers booked in Basic Economy can make changes to their flights purchased through 12/31/21 for travel completed by 12/31/21. Travel for the changed ticket must begin by the expiration date of the original ticket (12 months from the date of the original ticket purchase).
  • Basic economy tickets can continue to fly standby for free on the same day of travel to the same destinations.

COVID Waiver

Airlines waived all change fees (including on basic economy tickets) for tickets issued during the pandemic, but most of those basic economy waivers have since ended.  Now Delta & United have added a new window of travel where these fees are waived (flights scheduled to fly by 12/31/21).

AA Delta United Alaska Hawaiian JetBlue
Free Changes Allowed for All Flights Including Basic Economy Tickets issued by 3/31/21 Tickets issued by 4/30/21 or flown by 12/31/21 Tickets issued by 4/30/21 or flown by 12/31/21 Tickets issued by 4/30/21 Tickets issued by 4/30/21 Tickets issued by 4/30/21
Includes Award Change Fees? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Includes Award Cancellation Fees? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Paid Fare Change Fees

Here are the situations in which 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
All other paid tickets Fees waived on all flights originating in North or South America. 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: Change fees waived for all routes
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 routes 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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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?

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