Alaska Airlines Permanently Eliminating Change Fees

Filed Under: Alaska

Alaska Airlines has become the latest major US airline to “permanently” cut change fees, following in the footsteps of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.

Alaska Airlines eliminates change fees

Effective immediately, Alaska Airlines is eliminating change fees on all domestic and international tickets:

  • This covers Alaska Airlines’ entire route network
  • This applies to all ticket types, except for Saver fares (which are Alaska Airlines’ equivalent of Basic Economy)
  • This doesn’t mean that you can get a cash refund when you cancel a ticket, but rather it means you receive a voucher you can use within 12 months of the original date of issue
  • Previously Alaska Airlines charged fees of up to $125 per person for ticket changes
  • This applies to Alaska Mileage Plan award tickets for travel on Alaska Airlines, but not for travel on partner airlines

Ironically this doesn’t do all that much for Alaska Airlines’ most loyal flyers, as the airline has long waived change fees for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members, which has been one of the best elite perks of the Mileage Plan program.

As Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer, describes this move:

“COVID has taught us that flexibility in travel is key. As we evolve our approach to travel to include more than 100 safety actions, it’s important to give our guests flexibility when they book by eliminating change fees.”

Alaska is permanently cutting change fees on non-Saver tickets

Alaska extending flexible policy for Saver fares

While change fees are being eliminated altogether permanently, Alaska Airlines is extending its flexible travel policy for all new ticket purchases through December 31, 2020. In practice this means that Saver fares can be changed for free until then, and I imagine there’s also the potential for this waiver to be extended.

Alaska is extending its flexible booking policy through December 31

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines is joining the “big three” US carriers in eliminating change fees (and then of course there’s Southwest, which hasn’t had these fees for years). This is great news, especially as it covers Alaska Airlines’ entire network.

Alaska Airlines hasn’t announced any changes to its standby policy, unlike American and United, so we’ll see if that happens eventually.

This is all great news…

Comments
  1. Are you able to change tickets bought using the AS cc companion-fare code? Previously i believe any change would result in the loss of the code. Anyone have recent +ve experience with such a change?

  2. Now if we could just get one of the major players to eliminate checked baggage fees, we’d really have something.

  3. Does anyone know how Alaska handles ticket changes if you used the companion pass (the free or the annual $99)? Do you just pay the difference on the 1st fare & the 2nd one is still free + taxes (or $99 + taxes)?

  4. Art_Czar – As of a few weeks ago, AS now automatically redeposits your companion fare code within 7 days. Used to be that you had to call and ask; now it’s automatic.

  5. @CW – They’ll honor the BOGO as long as its for the same airports and within the dates of the original offer. We actually changed from San Jose to SFO, which was allowed because they’re in the same area. As for the companion fare that comes with the credit card, you’ll pay a fare difference (if any) on changes. If you cancel, they’ll redeposit the code automatically within 7 days.

  6. I don’t anticipate seeing any standby changes, as Alaska eliminated standby altogether a few years ago. Now, it’s same day confirmed change only, which is okay, given their very generous policy of allowing free same day changes for many short haul shuttle routes.

  7. I don’t find these changes unusual at all. Given the vagueries of travel restrictions, both domestic and International, who is going to want to book a flight that may be restricted at any time?

    Allowing free changes will reassure patrons that they can adjust their flights as the government rules change. So this isn’t being done as a good will gesture to ticket buyers, it’s being done to increase the number of folks who will be willing to buy tickets. 😉

  8. @ Zoe — You get a credit back that has to be redeemed within a year. I’ll update the post to clarify that.

  9. There’s no mention on Alaska’s website that this “no change fee” policy applies to award flights.

    This is a huge shortcoming.

    To be clear: United’s new policy allows you to cancel any reward flight and redeposit the miles back into your account with no fee, as long as you do that 30 days before the flight. That’s a great benefit, especially in these uncertain times, but it should be the norm. It doesn’t cost the airline anything to “allow” you to redeposit your miles if you cancel a flight. All the others — American, Delta, and now Alaska — have either ignored the fees on canceling award flights entirely, or only mitigated them under limited circumstances. Alaska should follow United’s lead on that (so should American and Delta).

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