Airlines are being hit hard by the uncertainty from coronavirus, causing many to put off planning travel. A couple of days ago JetBlue announced that they’d suspend change and cancelation fees, and now Alaska is following their lead.
Alaska cuts change and cancelation fees
Alaska Airlines has announced that they will suspend all change and cancelation fees for newly booked tickets:
- This is valid for flights booked between February 27 and March 12, 2020
- This is valid for travel through June 1, 2020
This will apply to all fares offered by Alaska, including their “Saver” fares, which ordinarily can’t be canceled.
Passengers who choose to cancel their flights will receive a travel credit for the full value of their ticket, which they can apply towards a future flight within a year of the original date the ticket was issued. Customers who want to change flights can apply the full amount from their original booking to a different itinerary, although fares differences may apply.
Why has Alaska Airlines introduced this policy?
At this point there’s not any immediate reason to be concerned about coronavirus in the US, but Alaska is introducing this policy to give customers confidence that they will not be charged any fees for changes or cancelations given how the coronavirus situation is evolving.
The big concern at the moment is with uncertainty, and Alaska is addressing that. My guess is that airlines are seeing a huge drop in future bookings, and that’s the primary motivation.
As Alaska Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer describes this move:
“We understand that information about the coronavirus is creating confusion and anxiety for some. Our first goal is to keep our guests safe, and offer peace of mind when it comes to flying with us. So, through this period, if you need to change your plans after booking a flight, we’ll work with you on new arrangements and you won’t have to worry about any change or cancellation fees.”
What if you booked a ticket before February 27?
Previously booked tickets don’t qualify for this. This promotion only applies for tickets purchased as of yesterday, and is clearly intended to generate additional business and put people at ease when they book flights over the next two weeks.
If coronavirus does became a major issue in the US, I expect airlines will start issuing travel waivers for all tickets.
If you are uncomfortable traveling and have a previously booked ticket, it can’t hurt to call Alaska and see if there’s anything they’re willing to do. I find that they’re more of a “people” airline than the “big three” US carriers.
I think it’s safe to assume that ticket sales are suffering, and a lot of that is caused by the uncertainty of coronavirus. Perhaps this policy will help those people who are otherwise concerned about booking travel.