Industry Update
External Article15 September 2020

Most U.S. Airlines Are Getting Rid of Change Fees for Good

All but JetBlue have eliminated the often costly fees on domestic flights.

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In its latest move to offer more flexibility to fliers during COVID-19, most major U.S. airlines have put an end to ticket change fees for good. United Airlines kicked off the trend, announcing on August 30 that going forward, it would no longer be charging change fees for all standard economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., effective immediately. Delta nixed its fees for domestic flights shortly after—and American Airlines joined the fray, too, eliminating change fees for domestic and some short-haul flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada. Shortly thereafter, Hawaiian and Alaska announced similar domestic policies—leaving JetBlue as the only major airline to keep change fees in place.

Now, United is back two weeks later to all but match American, which had the most lenient policy. The airline announced last week that fights to Mexico and the Caribbean will also be exempt from change fees.

Change fees—which can run as high as $200, depending on the airline and flight—are the ancillary charge levied when a flier needs to alter their itinerary, typically on top of any difference in fare. Many fliers see them as unnecessarily punitive. Southwest Airlines, for example, is beloved by customers in large part because there are no change fees and fliers have the ability to shift their plans as needed, free of charge.

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