Delta and American Airlines have both announced the permanent elimination of change fees after United Airlines said over the weekend it was doing away with the $200 fee customers are charged for changes to its tickets.
Like United, the new Delta policy becomes effective immediately, and covers tickets purchased for travel within the US, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. The policy applies to First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin fares.
The American Airlines policy is not set to go into effect until Oct. 1, but covers a wider range of destinations in the airline’s network. In addition to all domestic flights, plus Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the carrier’s policy also applies to select short-haul international destinations, including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
All three carriers say basic economy fares are not included, since they do not allow changes anyway, and most international flights are excluded from the new policy. However the three airlines are extending waivers on change fees for newly purchased flights, including international flights and basic economy fares, through the end of the year.
Delta has also extended the expiration date on travel credits through December 2022 for tickets booked before April 17, 2020.
American takes their travel credits policy a step further, offering fliers credits when they change to a lower-cost ticket.
Charging fees for changes and rebookings have been a sore point with travelers since they were instituted by airlines years ago. However according to Department of Transportation statistics they were a lucrative source of revenue, adding a total of $2.8 billion to the industry’s profit picture.
The elimination of these fees is another step the industry is taking to lure travelers back, follow a spring when air traffic numbers were crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of travel worldwide.
“We’ve said before that we need to approach flexibility differently than this industry has in the past,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We want our customers to book and travel with peace of mind, knowing that we’ll continue evaluating our policies to maintain the high standard of flexibility they expect.”