If you made travel plans for the coming months, odds are you’re rethinking them as the COVID-19 pandemic escalates.
Airline customer service lines have been overwhelmed with phone calls from travelers looking to change or cancel flights. Many are asking passengers to wait to call until 48 to 72 hours before the scheduled departure in order to manage volume and prioritize those with imminent travel.
Different carriers are taking different approaches. Most airlines are waiving fees for changed or canceled reservations, and some are offering incentives to rebook within a certain time frame.
Below we’ve outlined the current cancellation policies for the 11 main passenger airlines in the U.S. These policies are subject to frequent updates, however, so if you’re seeking to change or cancel a reservation, be sure to check your carrier’s website for the latest advisories.
Alaska Airlines is waiving change and cancellation fees for tickets purchased on or before Feb. 26 for travel through May 31 and for tickets purchased from Feb. 27 to March 31 for travel through Feb. 28, 2021.
If you choose to change your flights, fare differences may apply, and your new travel must be completed by Feb. 28, 2021. If you cancel your flights, you’ll receive a credit with the airline.
Saver fares are eligible only for cancel fee waivers, not change fee waivers. All tickets must be changed or canceled before the departure of the original flight.
Allegiant Air does not appear to list any set dates limiting the waivers for change or cancellation fees.
Instead, the carrier’s website simply states customers may change or cancel a booking for a voucher for the full value of the reservation. They may use those vouchers to purchase and complete travel within a year of the original booking date.
American Airlines customers don’t have to pay change fees for tickets purchased on or before March 1 scheduled for travel between March 1 and May 31, 2020.
Eligible customers rebooking their flights must start their travel by Dec. 31, 2020 or within one year of the date the ticket was issued, whichever is earlier. Changes can be made once for free, and fare differences may apply. Canceling and rebooking later is also an option.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines is waiving change fees for domestic and international flights scheduled to depart in March, April or May and for tickets purchased in March. Eligible customers can change their travel dates and/or choose a new destination by Dec. 31, 2020, or the ticket expiration date. Fare differences may apply in some instances.
Delta tickets for March or April travel set to expire before June 30 have been extended to permit travel until Dec. 31. If you bought a ticket in March, you’re allowed to make adjustments as many times as you want without change fees for a full year from the date you purchased it.
If you choose to cancel your ticket rather than change the date or destination, the value will become an eCredit for future use. So you can put that eCredit toward the new ticket you book later on when you know about travel plans. If you’re not able to cancel a ticket before the departure and don’t take the flight, your ticket will automatically become an eCredit within 24 hours.
Frontier Airlines customers can make a one-time change to their itineraries without change or cancel fees for tickets purchased before March 10 with original travel dates between March 10 and April 30. For tickets bought before March 10 for travel between May 1 and May 31, customers must make this one-time change before April 1 or standard fees will apply.
Travelers with tickets issued March 10 through March 31 can also make a one-time itinerary change without paying a change or cancel fee. Those who change flights must complete rebooked travel by Nov. 9, 2020. Those who cancel receive a credit for the value of the ticket, which they can apply toward the purchase of a new ticket within 90 days of cancellation.
Frontier also has a limited-time offer for people who cancel their travel scheduled from March 26 to June 17 by March 27. In addition to the standard credit, those customers will be eligible to receive a $50 per person voucher for future travel, which they can redeem through Dec. 31, 2020, “for travel through the end of Frontier’s then available schedule.”
Hawaiian Airlines is waiving fees for any changes made within a year of the original purchase date for tickets bought from March to May.
Tickets purchased before March 1 for travel from March to May may also be rebooked without a fee if the new travel begins on or before Dec. 31, 2020. The tickets also must be changed on or before Dec. 31, 2020, or one year from the original ticket purchase date ― whichever is earlier.
Eligible travelers may also cancel their bookings for a credit toward future flights.
JetBlue is waiving change and cancel fees for customers scheduled to travel through May 31. Those travelers may rebook their flights for travel through Oct. 24, 2020. Fare differences may apply.
Change and cancel fees are also suspended for new bookings made from March 6 to March 31 for travel through Sept. 8, 2020.
Those who cancel their flights will receive airline credit valid for one year from the date issued.
Southwest Airlines already doesn’t charge fees for changed or canceled travel. Travelers simply have to cancel the flight at least 10 minutes before its scheduled departure to receive a credit valid for a year from the date of purchase.
Under the current circumstances, the airline is also extending the expiration date on some of those credits, including those that were issued because of a flight cancellation from March 1 to May 31, and those that have expired or are set to expire from March 1 to May 31. Those expiration dates have been extended to June 30, 2021.
Customers scheduled to fly between now and April 30 can also change their travel to a date up to 60 days from the original date between the same origin and destination without paying any fare difference.
Spirit Airlines’ website states that customers who change their travel plans due to COVID-19 are eligible to receive a reservation credit for the full value of their booking.
There’s an online form to make the change and claim that credit, which can be used for up to six months to book any currently available flight, including those beyond the six-month time frame.
Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country Airlines is waiving change or cancellation fees for customers scheduled to travel through May 31.
Those who cancel their flights will receive a credit toward future travel. The credit expires a year from the date the original reservation was booked but can be used for travel beyond the expiration date.
United Airlines is waiving change fees for tickets issued on or before March 2 for domestic or international flights scheduled to depart from March 9 through May 31. You must rebook your travel on or before Dec. 31, 2020, or 12 months from the original ticket date, whichever is earlier, and that travel must begin within 12 months of the original ticket issue date.
For flights booked from March 3 to March 31, you can change your ticket for free over the next 12 months. You can also cancel for a credit to put toward future travel.