Home Airlines Hey Airlines! Time To Allow Temporary Changes To Basic Economy Tickets

Hey Airlines! Time To Allow Temporary Changes To Basic Economy Tickets

by joeheg

During the worst of the pandemic in 2020, airlines made a major shift in how they dealt with changing tickets. Previously, any attempt to change or cancel an airline ticket came with ridiculous fees. These fees were often higher than the cost of a ticket, making your ticket worthless if you couldn’t make your flight. Only the highest status frequent flyers were allowed to change tickets without a fee.

With people being unsure about the safety of flying during COVID and how comfortable they’d feel about the prospect of getting on a plane, airlines did away with the change fees even including the cheapest level basic economy tickets.

When the pandemic was seeming to stabilize with only occasional flare-ups, airlines took the opportunity to add the no-change, no cancellation rules back to basic economy tickets. If a passenger wanted to buy the lowest fare, they’d assume the risk of losing their money if they were not able to fly. Some airlines backed away from their announced changes because of the Delta wave this summer but for 2022, things were going back to the old normal.

Travelers (and the airlines) had no idea that the case numbers would look like this in January 2022.

Cases are spiking. Even more worrisome is reading several recent Tweets from people complaining about nearby passengers coughing and sneezing (while removing their mask to do so) during an entire flight.

I’m aware that the risk of becoming severely ill or dying from COVID if you’re vaccinated and boosted is very low, even less so with the extremely transmissible Omicron variant.  That doesn’t mean that I want an obviously sick passenger sitting next to me on a packed plane, no matter what’s making them sneeze and cough.

So why are airlines incentivizing people to travel when sick or risk losing all the money spent on a ticket?

I’m sure that airlines will say people knew the rules when they bought a ticket. However, the risk they were assuming was when a vaxxed and boosted person had little chance of getting sick from COVID or having a positive test. That’s changed and even the most vaxxed or previously infected (or both) person can catch Omicron, which technically should put them into isolation, regardless of how sick they get.

No matter if it’s someone being responsible and staying home after a COVID diagnosis or if they have any sort of respiratory disease and don’t want to take the chance of flying, there shouldn’t be a penalty for them to reschedule travel for a later date.

The consensus is that the Omicron peak will be much higher but end quicker than past peaks. If that is true, this doesn’t have to be a long pause. Maybe a month or so would be enough to get us past this peak.

Come on, airlines. You know there’s a problem because you don’t have enough employees to fly your planes as scheduled. Time to let people do what’s right and stay off a plane when they’re sick, without having to pay a penalty for doing so.  Even if they purchased a non-changeable ticket.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

Cover Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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