As COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on the aviation industry earlier this year, airlines were relatively quick to drop some of their “no refunds” rules and even institute new rules in offering refunds and waiving change fees if you bought airline tickets in the immediate future. Due to expiration dates, those rules have had to be updated a few times. Cases in point, the legacy airlines.
On March 1, American Airlines posted that, “…it will waive change fees up to 14 days prior to travel for customers who purchase travel between March 1 and March 16.”
Later that month, realizing that the #coronacrapola was here to stay for a while, American Airlines extended its offer to waive change fees for customers who purchased tickets before March 1 for travel through May 31. That offer was available for any of the airline’s fares, and passengers could re-book through December 31, 2020.
And now, with COVID-19 still not going anywhere soon, they’ve updated their rules again.
From their press release:
“American is extending its offer to waive change fees for customers who purchase tickets by June 30, 2020 for summer travel through Sept. 30, 2020. This offer applies to tickets that meet the following criteria:
- Any ticket purchased on or before June 30, 2020, for travel through Sept. 30, 2020, will not incur change fees prior to travel. Customers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, at time of ticketing of the new fare. Fare rules may apply depending on the ticket.
- All AAdvantage® award tickets are included in this offer.
- Customers are allowed to change their origin and destination cities as part of this offer.
- Travel must be completed by Dec. 31, 2021.”
Their “flexibility” also includes social distancing. American says they’ve limited the number of people on each plane and might reassign seats between customers or to accommodate families who need to sit together. They’re also allowing people to change seats (albeit within their ticketed cabin) once boarding is complete, assuming it’s OK in terms of weight distribution or balance.
Delta has also had to update its rules regarding making changes to reservations. From their press release:
“…we’re extending our change fee waiver for new flights purchased through June 30, providing customers the option to change their plans without a fee for a year from the date of purchase.
For customers whose plans have been impacted by schedule changes or want additional reassurance about upcoming travel, we’re also providing greater flexibility to re-book travel through Sept. 30, 2022. Eligible customers include those who have:
- Upcoming travel already booked between now and Sept. 30 as of April 17, 2020
- Canceled travel from flights between March 2020 and September 2020
Delta has also capped fares for travel throughout the U.S. and Canada through June 30, 2020, inclusive of all cabins. Check Delta’s Coronavirus Update Center for questions on how to change your flight, other FAQs and more.”
Delta is, we think, the airline that’s trying to give customers what they want. So besides sanitizing their planes, streamlining food service and cleaning the cabin air, they’re still blocking middle and capping seats at 50% in First Class and 60% in other cabins, and boarding their new way.
For United, new tickets bought through (now) June 30 for any travel date can be exchanged for travel within a year of the date the original ticket was issued for a ticket of equal or lesser value, without a fee. When the new ticket is more expensive, travelers pay only the fare difference. However, travelers exchanging for fares of a lower cost will not be refunded the fare difference. Because of course not.
Our take on it
Granted, nearly all airlines needed to make these types of refund/waiver changes to even have a chance of staying afloat. So I realize it sounds a little silly to be happy or grateful that they’re doing this. I mean, we all recognize these kinds of measures are to save their own butts, not ours. It’s not lost on any of us that they’re doing this, seemingly, inch by inch, so as not to have to give one waiver more than they absolutely need to (ticket purchased through June 30th, really?). But unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and I’m still glad changes like these are in place.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary