One bit of good news for the travel world in the wake of the pandemic…
This week, all of the major US airlines have permanently eliminated change fees, mostly for flights within the U.S.
Some added FREE same-day standby, as well.
Of course, Southwest ALREADY never charged change fees, because, well, they are awesome ;-).
United was the first to make the announcement on August 30, 2020, and within a day or two, American, Delta, Alaska and Hawaiian followed suit.
Alaska says it will drop change fees for both US AND international flights!
Why This Is Important for Travel
While I think it’s obvious that it’s important right now to be able to change flights quickly if needed as the virus increases and decreases in certain areas or if you get sick or have been exposed. This is pretty much a requirement for airlines to continue to operate if they want people to be comfortable flying.
But it’s surprising that all jumped on board to make this a permanent change.
This has long been a HUGE set-apart for Southwest Airlines, and personally, one of the MAIN reasons I try to always fly Southwest.
It’s a tremendous peace of mind to know that if I need to change my flight that I can do so without being penalized. It greatly increases my chances of booking a flight!
In the new world of travel we’re about to usher in in the midst of- and post-pandemic, people are going to expect flexibility and choose the airlines that offer it.
How Will This Impact Southwest?
This is definitely a setback for Southwest who used this as a key differentiating point from other airlines, but it still have plenty of other set aparts that cause me (and others, I’m sure, as well) to choose it instead of any of the other major US carriers whenever possible.
- The ability to check 2 bags up to 50 pounds FREE per person
- The ability to CANCEL a flight with no penalty
- The ability to book ANY flight, ANY time with points rather than having to find an available “award seat”
- The option to book a fare with phone with no fee (I can’t tell you how many times Southwest customer service agents have saved the day!)
- Their outstanding customer service, which is heads and tails above the rest
The Details of Each Airline’s Change Fee Elimination
- Eliminates change fees for ALL tickets except “Saver” fares
- $15 fee to book by phone remains
- Eliminates change fees for US flights and short-haul international flights (Mexico, Caribbean, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands)
- Fly standby on same day to same destination FREE beginning October 1, 2020
- Basic Economy tickets now have the option to purchase priority boarding, upgrades and same-day changes
- $25-$40 fee remains to book tickets by phone
- Eliminates change fees for flights within the U.S., Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
- 24 hours to cancel your flight at no cost after booking
- No fee to book a flight by phone or in person (already in place)
- Eliminates change fees for domestic and international flights for all seats except Main Cabin Basic. Main Cabin Basic can change for no fee through Dec. 31, 2020.
- $25 fee to book tickets by phone remains
- Most fares are non-refundable
- Eliminates change fees for standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets within the U.S., Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands; no limit to how many times you can make changes
- Fly standby free on any ticket type beginning January 1, 2021
- $25 charge to book by phone, $35 at a City Ticket Office and $50 at the airport remains
What do you think about these changes? Do they make you more likely to give airlines other than Southwest a second look?