Alaska Airlines Suspends Change Fees

Filed Under: Alaska

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.

Bottom line

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.

  1. That’s nice of them. I was going to book tickets using avios, to get flexibility. Now don’t have to waste my avios and can buy cheap cash tickets. In my case, it’s not about virus but about weather in Alaska.

  2. I recently cancelled my Alaska award booking on Cathay – BKK-HKG-LAX – due to coronavirus concerns. Alaska redeposited the miles with no fees.

    Ironically, the itinerary to which I originally changed included KE017 on Feb. 19 from ICN-LAX, which it appears was served by a flgiht attendant who has tested positive for coronavirus. Luckily for me, I changed to yet another itinerary beforehand.

  3. I am traveling via an award ticket to the Philippines from Anch AK next Monday and Alaska was good about changing my itenary from CP to JAL. Only one grumpy agent tried to charge me a change fee. The last agent even helped me to secure three first class seats on the 14.5 hour JFK to HND leg. The other segments are in Intl J and Domestic F.

  4. This is only for two weeks. After March 12, they hit you with the change fee again. You have two weeks to make a plan, then change/cancel it. This is FAR less than Jet Blue announced, and frankly sorta gutless.

  5. @ Brizone…..
    Hahaha, save it….. Like @ Kyle said, “STFU” you troll! Better than a sharp stick an the eye and others that haven’t stepped up to show any confidence!!!

  6. I think this is very discriminatory. I understand they are trying to generate business, but what about their loyal customers that book flights way ahead of time. They should not bite the hand that feeds them on an on-going basis. We booked first class round trip tickets to Newark and then a connecting flight with another airline to Athens in Nov, leaving mid April. We are elderly, and I have health issues that could cause life threatening issues for me if I got the virus, and yet I can’t get a refund. We have been very loyal customers to Alaskan airlines and with their credit card. We will be rethinking our loyalty due to their discrimination terms for free cancellations. Not good customer service or business!

  7. We took advantage of a great Air France/Flying Blue deal to Europe from Seattle, leaving in less than 2 weeks. 144,000 miles round trip for 2 tickets business class. I figured I could get something back for those if we cancel but no – out of the ~$1,000 taxes/fees I paid for the 2 tickets, I’m likely to get $88 taxes/fees back and NO return of miles. They said it’s because it was a super-promotion or something like that.

    Meanwhile, our positioning flights on Delta between LAX and Seattle were less than $200 each, and their change fee is $200 each, so I’ll get nothing back on that either. I’m not optimistic that any of this will change.

    So, I guess we might as well enjoy a few weeks in Portugal and Spain and hope we don’t get infected until after we get home. No cases in Portugal yet.

  8. Alaska is discriminating… not caring about their customers. I bought a ticket on 2/16, and they won’t change it free… flight is before their 3/12 cutoff too! They should honor any flight before 3/12. #nervoustofly

  9. After spending all day canceling flights with Frontier, American and United – and each one of them offering cancellations as long as we use the funds within 1 year for reservations made months back – Just got off the phone with Nicole at Alaska’s Boise office – they first said they will charge $125 – after talking to her for 20 minutes – she said she could make an exception and would reduce it to $75. But that fee had to be paid upfront – they will not take it out of the credit they’re giving – bizarre!

  10. I purchased Alaskan air tickets to Seattle February 2 and they will not let me reschedule my flight for the March 27. I am 71 and feel it is not safe for me to go there at this time. They should let everyone reschedule at this very crucial time, I don’t care how clean their planes are, its not the planes I’m worried about its about Seattle.

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