Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines have joined United Airlines in the change fee waiver dance line.
Delta and American's policies are pretty much a carbon copy of United’s -- eliminating the $200 change fee on domestic tickets. But there are exceptions travelers should look for before popping the cork.
Caveats among airlines
Delta is permanently scrapping change fees for tickets purchased for travel within the domestic U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in Delta’s First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin. However, Basic Economy tickets are not exempt from a change fee.
Like Delta, American’s fee waiver also includes all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It also tacks on Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada as fee waived destinations. American also waives change fees in the Main Cabin, Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class, but it does not waive the change fees in Basic Economy.
Unlike other airlines, American’s fee waiver is not permanent. When ConsumerAffairs contacted American to see if there was an end date on the waiver program, we were told that unless the airline extends the waiver, Basic Economy fares that are purchased starting on January 1, 2021, will not be changeable.
Like Delta, Alaska Airlines’ says its change is permanent. Its new change-fee policy applies to all tickets except for Saver fares. As far as destinations are concerned, Alaska has included every place it flies both domestically and internationally.
What’s the catch?
Is this a too-good-to-be-true maneuver, or are the airlines going to start showing some long-forgotten consumer love?
“In this case, there’s probably not (a catch),” Skift’s Brian Sumers said. “Airlines are hurting, and they need to win public support and attract new business. They’re not likely to waste the goodwill they generated this week and turn around and institute a new fee on something else next month. They will stick with passenger-friendly policies for a while.”
Sumers goes on to predict that the airlines will eventually find other revenue-making angles once they pay back the U.S. government for the bailout loans. “Still, they likely will be smarter about what they implement, perhaps adding new fees passengers understand and respect,” he said.