In a move that will surprise nobody who has had Internet access for the past 24 hours, Delta has announced that it is eliminating change fees on domestic tickets with the US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands for First Class, Premium Select, Comfort+, and Main Cabin. Basic Economy tickets will still carry change fees.
Beaten to the punch, but maybe not the idea
This isn’t surprising of course because United announced yesterday that they are dropping change fees on domestic tickets (apart from Basic Economy). I think everyone knew that it wouldn’t be long before other airlines followed suit and most would have likely bet on Delta to quickly fall in line as they typically have the most customer-friendly policies of the three legacy carriers.
Ben at One Mile at a Time suggests that this is a change that had been in the works with Delta since pre-pandemic days. I thought it was kind of strange that United made such a significant announcement on a Sunday. Maybe they caught wind that Delta was announcing today and tried to beat them to the punch?
At any rate, this is good news for consumers. Notably, Delta doesn’t promise that this change will last forever, but I think everyone expects competition for far-reduced travel spend to remain tight for at least the next year and possibly the next couple of years, so I don’t expect change fees to be reintroduced any time soon.
Temporary Waiver applies to even Basic Economy
Additionally, Delta has extended its temporary change fee policy that waives change fees on all newly-purchased flights, including international and Basic Economy itineraries, to tickets purchased by December 31, 2020. That is a nice change that takes the guesswork out of the last few days of each month wondering whether waivers would be extended.
Travel credits for tickets booked before April 17, 2020 are being extended to December 2022.
Delta’s decision to eliminate change fees on all domestic tickets except those in basic economy is not a surprise given United’s similar announcement yesterday. I do find Basic Economy’s position in the market interesting. I think it was Ed Pizzarello at Pizza in Motion who first noted the curiosity of Basic Economy in that the airlines are in an almost unique position of creating a product that they are deliberately trying to make as undesirable as possible. They want you to not want it enough to as to pay for something else, which is just kind of odd. Nonetheless, this change in policy and the extension of change fee waivers that applies through the end of 2020 (even on Basic Economy tickets) represents a net win. I’m sure American will follow suit in short order. Increased travel flexibility is a welcome thing in our new normal.
H/T: One Mile at a Time