As COVID-19 cases continue to climb, hospitalizations reach record highs, and the CDC urges Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving, many travelers are left scrambling to amend their holiday plans.
US airline executives are reporting a decrease in bookings and increase in cancellations stemming from the CDC announcement, dealing yet another blow to what is arguably the hardest hit industry by the pandemic.
International Air Transport Authority (IATA) reports global air transport industry losses to total US $84B, with over a quarter of those losses hitting North American carriers. The same report finds North American passenger demand decreasing by 52.6 percentage points.
Despite the agitating circumstances the industry is dealing with, travelers should be pleased to know that carriers elect, and rightfully so, to empathise with customers and provide accommodations and co-operation in policies surrounding cancellations and travel change fees.
This is a bold move, as to put this in perspective, US airlines generated $2.8B in change and cancellation fees in 2019.
The following are the latest cancellation policies for the major US airlines:
American Airlines is waiving cancellation fees for all tickets booked at any time between March 1, 2020 to December, 31, 2020. The fine print conditions are that you will only be granted a credit for a future flight, you would have to pay any difference in value of a future ticket or receive a credit if the future ticket is below value, and the fee will only be waived for the first change.
For those traveling internationally, the carrier recently announced that they have permanently eliminated change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for all international departures originating from North America.
The airline carrier has waived change fees for any flights purchased between March 1 through December 31, 2020.
Travelers have the option to rebook their ticket for a period of up to one year past their initial issue date, or cancel and receive a credit of the value of their booking which would be valid for the same period of time. Travelers would have to pay any difference in value for future tickets, and will not receive any form of credit if the future ticket is of lesser value.
Delta flyers may make changes to their bookings through Delta’s My Trips tool.
Southwest was ahead of the curve even before the pandemic, as they touted no cancellation fees as a competitive advantage. The carrier is offering full credit for all tickets on future travel up to one year from the purchase date, as long as the adjustment is requested up to 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of the initial booking.
In addition, Anytime and Business Select tickets have the option to receive a refund to the original form of payment. Non-refundable tickets may be refunded to the original form of payment only if they are cancelled within 24 hours of booking.
United is eliminating change fees permanently for Economy and Premium Cabin tickets for flights within the United States, or between the U.S, Mexico and the Caribbean.
All tickets issued between April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 are eligible for a change to future travel up to 12 months from the initial issue date without a fee. The change is eligible for a ticket of equal or lesser value, or a difference in price would have to be paid.
For travelers looking to cancel, they would receive a credit of the value of their booking, which may be used for a period of up to 12 months past the initial issue date.
Alaska Air is offering all tickets purchased between February 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020 to cancel their bookings and receive credit for future travel. All ticket types, with the exception of ‘Saver Fare’ tickets, also have the option to change their trip without a fee.
Effective January 1, 2021, change fees will be eliminated for all Main and First Class fares.
JetBlue is waiving change and cancel fees for all bookings made through February 28, 2021. Those looking to change their booking would have to pay any difference in value for a future booking, while those who opt to cancel will receive travel bank credits which will be valid for a period of 12 months.
Jetblue passengers can manage their bookings by using the Manage Trips section of the carrier’s website.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories