KUDOS: Delta Now Allowing Previously Booked Tickets To Be Changed Without Fees

Filed Under: Delta

Well, Delta Air Lines has just become the first of the “big three” US carriers to actually do the right thing in light of the coronavirus situation.

Delta waiving change fees on previously booked tickets

Delta has just announced that they’re waiving change fees for all tickets issued before March 9, 2020, for travel between March 1 and April 30, 2020.

Customers who will benefit from this policy can rebook for travel through December 31, 2020.

I have so much respect for Delta for doing the right thing.

Up until now waived fees have only been a sales technique

Prior to this announcement, US carriers have literally been using waived change fees as a sales technique. They’ve only applied this on newly booked tickets as a way of boosting bookings, rather than applying it to those with previously issued tickets.

I of course understand airlines are being hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, but sometimes you just have to do the right thing. Delta says they have our backs, and they’re actually acting like that.

Compare that to United, which in light of this entire situation decided to introduce one of the most outrageous refund policies on schedule changes.

As a point of comparison, Delta’s previous policy allowed for waived change fees for all itineraries purchased between March 1 and March 31, 2020, regardless of when travel was scheduled to occur.

With this new policy even tickets booked before March 1 are covered, assuming you travel through April 30 (though I imagine that date has the potential to be extended).

Bottom line

I don’t like everything Delta does, but they really are in a league of their own among the “big three” US carriers when it comes to realizing that they’re in the customer service and people business.

I understand this is likely to be costly for airlines, but it’s absolutely the right thing to do.

Hopefully American and United come to their senses and introduce similar policies, realizing that they should be giving people the option not to travel, either because they’re scared, or because they’re not feeling well.

With the new US travel ban on Europe, I assume we’ll see even more waivers from US airlines.

Comments
  1. Absolutely — DELTA gets it…. hopefully it results in future sales for them….I am avoiding greedy AA and United at all cost at this point!!!

  2. This is a great thing for them to have done. I rebooked an award ticket for the end of March to a weekend in October. No change fees, and the award price on one of my tickets went down.

  3. Some airlines, like Finnair, have far more generous policies, allowing any previously booked fare for travel until 30 November to be changed to any date before then without a fee.

    Good on Delta for being the first big US carrier to head in the right direction, though…

  4. Hmm, beg to differ. Two real dp’s following the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last night:

    My buddy was flying on DL (paid) to Palm Springs. He cancelled his airfare and was only offered a credit to be used for another flight before Sept. 2020 (1 year from original booking). He (and I) has Sky Priority+ status and used the elite phone line.

    I took advantage of the Chase UR transfer bonus last year to British Airways Avios to book an AA flight to LAX. After not getting through on the general BA phone line (with no status), I thought I’d see my options online. I cancelled my flight and immediately got back 20,000 Avios miles (x 2 tickets) and it looks like I’m only eating the security/tax of $11 per ticket.

    He’s not loving DL.

  5. @JW in GA: That’s BA’s normal (excellent) policy, get the miles back but forfeit the taxes and fees.

  6. @LAXJeff. I’m not sure of the official policy on award tickets but I called yesterday and cancelled a couple of award tix to NYC. Rep waived the redeposit fees no questions asked.

  7. It may be costly now, but Delta wins a ton of goodwill points from consumers who know that they can book flights on Delta with confidence (or at least more confidence then they’d have in other airlines) that they’ll be treated right. That’s a huge motivation to book with Delta (and even pay a little more) than go with other airlines.

  8. Why not have the US Government mandate that any previously purchased tickets — cash OR miles — can be used for the same or any other itinerary for up to 24 months from now? Or, that they can be cancelled for a Reasonable cash fee (like $100) and you get Cash back, and NOT one of those fraudulent vouchers?

  9. What if my flight departs within the impacted travel dates but the return flight falls does not (e.g. Apr 24 to May 1)? Does the itinerary still qualify?

  10. @JW in GA – Cash and points purchases are treated differently by virtually all airlines. In this case the points cancellation worked out better for you than a cash purchase cancellation for your friend. I wouldn’t say that AA has handled this situation better than DL. Having a credit on DL that can be used for a future ticket is quite generous since none of these event cancellations are the fault of airlines.

    I have points reservations with FlyingBlue (KLM & Air France) this May/June and I’m waiting to see what if anything they offer.

  11. Does this mean that they’re extending the validity of the tickets?

    E.g., I got a round trip ticket from LAX-ORD on 5 April, 2019, planning to fly ORD-LAX on 1 April, 2020.

    Do I now have until 31 December 2020 to use the return portion of the ticket?

  12. I had a trip scheduled to NYC and Bermuda in April on AS from SEA-NYC and B6 NYC-BDA-SEA. The Bermuda event got cancelled over the weekend, Jetblue waived all the fees when I called Sunday even though the ticket was purchased in Jan. Now I’m using the the credit to fly Mint back from NYC-SEA, and I got the throne seat!

  13. @forrest as the government doesn’t interfere with a private company’s policies in North America and Europe . Furthermore, airlines are not charities. They are supposed to make money. Tickets are only valid one year , not two

  14. I cancelled an international award ticket last week but was given the option to reuse it without paying the $150 redeposit fee in a year. They would just hold it under the same E-ticket number without actually putting the miles back.

    It would have been so much better had they just redeposited it instead of keeping the miles/taxes on the account and forcing me to use in a year.

  15. Delta has done a lot of different things to win market share in Seattle–so I’ve seen a decent number of good promotions, sales, etc. That said, this is the single best, most impactful, thing that I’ve seen Delta do. That they are willing to do the right thing, despite being part of an industry under duress, is impressive and will absolutely cause me to send more of my future business their way. Alaska needs to follow Delta’s lead on this. At the very least, people with existing tickets who are flying from, or to, a city that has been officially designated as a COVID-19 State of Emergency area should be able to cancel their tickets and receive a credit for future travel on the same airline booked in the following 12 months. Not doing that incentivizes people from COVIT-19 hot-spots, like Seattle, to keep Spring Break plans, potentially contaminating parts of the country where the virus is not currently as prevalent. Good on Delta (and Southwest) for supporting good decision-making among their customers–especially those who would have incurred a family’s worth of cancellation fees–this travel season.

  16. @Icarus. Strongly suspect that the airlines will soon be seeking tax-payer funded financial support and will welcome that ‘interference’ from the government. There are some decent long-term reasons for offering government support. However, I hope that only those airlines whose policies were consistent with minimizing, or at least slowing down, the spread of COVID-19 are rewarded, while those who decided that they did not care receive their cancellation fees and nothing more.

  17. “Why not have the US Government mandate”

    On what basis? They start “mandating” this, they can mandate other things too, some of which you may not like.

  18. Not related but Israel is saying that all arrivals from today will have to go 14 days in quarantine.

  19. This is one DL announcement I hope UA follows! I have two International tickets within that period.

  20. So if I have bought a bulk fare from Priceline Express Deal, should I call Delta or Priceline for a refund?
    Because it is a bulk fare, the price does not show up in the receipt (it says “BULK” instead of price), so I am not sure whether Delta can issue a credit or change this. On the other hand Priceline has no reissuing/refund policy and is not willing to help.

  21. Oh this makes me so happy! Delta has a new customer. I’ve never been remotely loyal to them before but now they’re at the top of my list, or at least right up there with Southwest, for domestic travel.

  22. Kudos to Delta. Have tix for this week on Southwest, Silver and American. First two say no problem with cancel and rebooking in the future- losing nothing. Curious if AA feels backed into a corner or just continues its money grab.

  23. Air France Canada just sent me an e-mail saying any tickets booked on, or before March 31st, for travel (departure) before May 31st are eligible for free changes or vouchers for departures up to May 31st 2021. They mention this applies to AF/KLM/Delta and applicable partner airlines. I don’t know if that means simply code shares as my flights to Rome in May are ticketed partially Alitalia and AF. It is good news all the same

  24. Just called Delta to cancel a flight. There is a 4 hour hold time. According to delta.com/advisories, I went ahead and just canceled online and looks like I got charged $203 cancellation fee. ugh. This is for a flight I booked on 3/2 for travel on 4/5.

  25. Regarding JW in GA comment. I also had booked a flight in Sept 2019 for flight next week and was told about the 1 year from ticket purchase date. However, I was able to contact Delta Complaint Department and they were willing to make an exception and agreed to full refund. We had some special circumstances, but they were more than willing to make exception for us. Definite ++ for Delta

  26. Changed my April ATL-SEA rt (purchased in January) one paid Z ticket and one Delta Reserve companion pass, via twitter in minutes.

    No change fees and actually got a $205 credit as the October flight was cheaper.

    Friendly staff and couldn’t have been more understanding and accommodating.

  27. We shouldn’t be reactive and blame any particular airline(s). It’s all fluid and is changing by the hour. I suspect AA/UA others will step in as well, but let’s please don’t blame them given the huge load on management as they evaluate the their businesses and the marketplace.

    Also, what about other international airlines>?

    Finally….the hotels. Just cancelled/postponed meeting events with Marriott Group scheduled for April. Huge cancellation fees, with only minimal cost waivers to reschedule events, and changes limited to 2020. If pressure is needed, it’s on the hotel business events teams now.

  28. FYI: The Google Link leading into this article says “Chances” instead of Changes.

    Also AMERICAN needs to do this. I bought a round trip ticket to Zurich Switzerland from DFW through Philadelphia on February 27th traveling April 26th-May 2nd. Both major conferences I was attending in Basel have never been canceled in over 120 years. Not for WW1/WW2, or ANY other “crisis”. The event was actually postponed the canton government (like a state here). AA has been telling me for weeks that they can’t/won’t do anything without major fees, since the WHO doesn’t have an advisory for Switzerland….which has over 400 cases and 3 deaths so far….and boarders N. Italy….My event already has new dates for January 2021 and all I want to do is reschedule the tickets!!! I’m Platinum Pro, and actually I already re-qualified for Platinum this year before the end of February (I WAS going for EP this year, guess not anymore…) AA doesn’t care about me or anyone. It’s so sad. Bad time to be loyal to a corporation these days I guess.

  29. I booked Jet Blue on Feb 22nd for travel NYC to BUF to meet for travel in April and they won’t let me reschedule or get travel credit. Every time I call, they keep referring to their policy for tickets booked from February 27th. It’s so annoying – I’m sure they’re hoping my travel date will get here and I’ll not travel, allowing them to keep my money.

  30. Called them last weekend to cancel couple flights all booked before March 1st. My meetings or conferences had been canceled due to the virus. I was ready to pay the changing fee but the agent was proactive right away and said the would waive all fees. I didn’t ask for anything but he took the lead to waive them. That is why they have my loyalty.

  31. I would be worried about flying in/out of ATL. Atlanta is one of the most poorly managed cities I’ve ever visited. And I’m sure the airport and transit hygiene standards reflect that.

  32. I’m traveling on Delta from Seattle to Amsterdam then continuing on via KLM in April on a ticket purchase over a month ago. I was a bit annoyed that they previously would only allow changes for tickets purchased after March (which didn’t make sense to me).

    I’m glad they are allowing this, I hope I can find a ticket later in the year when this all settles down. Paid $ for a business class ticket and it’s going to be hard to find a comparable price.

    I’m worried about how the airline industry (and my hometowns Alaska and Delta) will fare during this time.

  33. This isnt helping me. I booked a transatlantic RT for 30,000 Skymiles a while back and any date I am looking for a rebooking is six digit. Am I missing something?

  34. As a travel agent, I am having a hard time changing/ cancelling my clients Delta tickets to Italy. They were scheduled to travel in May and currently Delta’s policy Is to change w/o a fee BUT new travel must be completed by August 31st (for travel scheduled in May). They currently won’t cancel without a $550 penalty. It is considered bulk travel so the average delta agent can’t do anything. It is frustrating as a travel agent I can’t help my clients and more than likely they could have cancelled if they booked this travel themselves. What is worse is some of them are flying AlItalia – no help from that airline whatsoever. The country is on lockdown and their airline is only changed for travel up to April 3rd. I wonder if Ford is having a hard time getting refunds/changes for his clients??

  35. Kudos to Delta. Taking the lead here.

    Henry LAX why so silent??? Why not tout all the UA flights from NYC to TYO and HKG? LOL coward.

  36. Horrible have to do everything over the phone or with Twitter when you are ready to rebook! Phones lines are backed up, not sure why the wont issue a e voucher to people.

  37. Thank you for the great picture of your dog. It brought a little ray of sunshine amidst this deluge of bad news now a days.

  38. I have several flights booked for April. I’m holding off – good chance flights will start being cancelled in some cities. I’ll then get a full refund.

  39. Because of the virus we exchanged a cruise from Miami this month for Iceland next year. But Delta isn’t about to give us a refund. So it looks like we’re still going to Miami this month, like it or lose our money. How is that a win? Under the circumstances they should let everyone cancel for a full refund to reduce the spread of the pandemic. And you know all airlines will come begging for a handout.

  40. Well, here is my experience…I had 2 sets of flights this month AND a cruise.

    Princess – allowed me to reschedule anytime before the end of 2021

    Southwest – cancelled, gave me immediate credit

    Delta – I followed their instructions of the waiver fees to cancel. Nope still charged me change fees. So I called at 5pm yesterday wait times were 5 hrs and gave them my number to call me back. They called me back @1:34AM!!!! Woke me from dead asleep. I told him about my experience and he said it would be given back in credit when I booked again later, He notated that on my account and said I would have to call to book it so they could pull that note back up.

    I agree with James….I live in Atlanta and its the worse!!!! We have a corrupt city government run by a bunch of self seeking politicians. Even the TSA agents here have attitudes. My wife and I both have noticed when traveling to other airports note the difference. DFW and Love field, Salt Lake, Norfolk, Vancouver, SJO, MCO, all have much friendlier people. I am embarrassed to say I live here. While DFW takes the longest to get off premises, it is the fastest going through TSA and they are the nicest people!

  41. My cancel experience beginning to sound like Steve’s

    on-line cancel roundtrip DL Comfort Class JFK-Vancouver

    but amount of ecredit is exactly $200 less that cost of ticket

    4 hour return call wait

    I would recommend people try to follow the line by line instrux in the DL Advisory in your bulletins. Even so, I have toi chase down this $200 discrepancy!

  42. Well, my cancellation experience did not go smoothly so far. Had a Delta flight NYC-UK in the middle of March that I booked in January on expedia. Expected to be able to cancel it without fee. After cancelling online on Delta it says cancellation fee $379 (the entire cost of the ticket minus the taxes + fees); thereafter my booking completely disappeared, ie I can’t find it anymore.

    Called up, spend an hour on hold and gave up.

  43. Thank you helpful people. No one answered the question about that “ travel within 1 year of original issue “ so here is my specific: purchased rt us travel on Delta 8-25-29. Travel is 3-22-20 start return a few days later. 1. If I outright cancel and go through the agony mentioned to get a full credit ( no change fee ) do I have to TRAVEL start of complete by 8-25-20 – 1 year from booking or do I just have to use the credit by 8-25-20 on a new ticket which allows travel on said ticket AFTER. 8-25-20 which is what I need 2. Confirm – if I simply change to 3-22-20 flight to a later date do I have to complete that travel by 3-22-20 ( doesn’t work I am screwed!). Thanks in advance

  44. @lisaM – Delta’s rules aren’t currently: if it is domestic travel it will have to be completed by 8-25-20. One year from date of issue. If it’s international travel, the travel has to be booked one year from original date of issue.

  45. Booked a flight for later in March, then changed my mind within 15 hours, well within 24 -hour cancellation window. I have tried repeatedly to cancel online and get an “oh no, we’re sorry, but you’ll need to call.” Called, and lines are busy. Left message for callback within four hours, but six hours, no callback. Tried again, and had no option to hold or leave a message. Delta is not able to handle volume I guess. I had no trouble booking. I hope They will honor my cancellation refund.

  46. Delta remains the class act they have always been – I have an International flight the end of the month and this is great to have the option. But I will probably call in vs trusting the website for a change if I make one.

  47. Thank you 2 moms travel. So if I just cancel does the value of the ticket less the change fee get banked if I want to travel after the 1 year domestic limit or do I lose the entire ticket.

  48. My wife cancelled her ATL-ORF itinerary for end of March. Did it online, and she was assessed the cancellation fee and only given Delta credit for $84 for a $284 ticket. I contacted DL via Twitter DM, and here’s their response:

    “If you’re viewing the ticket online, it will automatically show the change fee applies; however, when she is ready to re-book, it will need to be processed manually in order to waive the fees. She can either reach out to us on Twitter, or call reservations at 1-800-221-1212, She’ll just need to re-book by December 31, 2020. “

  49. Hello John with ATL-ORF iten. Is Dec 31 2020 for rebooking more than one year after she purchased this domestic ticket> (see 2 moms travel saying you only have that year to rebook on domestic ticket )? Just wondering if it is worth a call then.

  50. It’s said you can reschedule one time to the flight on/before Dec 31. How do I know when it will be safe to fly to UK again? It may not be in 2020.

  51. This policy isn’t the greatest here, despite these people gushing over how generous Delta is. In fact it’s horrible, because they’re essentially keeping your money. Me, I’m going to wait until the literal last minute before I cancel, in case they cancel the flight itself, which is likely at this point.

    A truly generous policy would be to offer monetary refunds, not force me to book a trip somewhere that I may not even need to take. I don’t need to go to my original destination in any event, because the need is time-sensitive and won’t exist after my flight date.

    Delta Airlines is not our friend, people. They will find any way permissible to extract money out of us, even if we don’t fly. Which is why they are also not including the cancellation fee as part of the e-voucher, to keep that money on their books even longer.

  52. Ok, So Lisa here with a ticket for travel domestic RT March 22-25 2020 and expires 8/25/20 one year after booking. I went on line and did a change to a LATE SEPTEMBER 2020 RT (past that one year expiration .
    The Delta.com site let me do it and did not charge the change fee.
    It charged a small difference in ticket cost .
    I note: but there were a bunch of flight and seat options where it said “BOOK NEW TICKET” and I could not select that flight or class. In the return the square was a complete blank white space but when I clicked on it , it carried through.
    Of course with this craziness the flight might be N/A
    …but I wanted to let you all know that on line I could change to beyond that ticket expiration date of 8/25/20. Again..it’s for domestic travel.
    Also I did call the booking number for Delta for kicks while I was doing all this and at no time did they say ” your hold time is a gazillion hours” or “put in your number and we will call you back”. This was Wed Mar 18 mid AM eastern.

  53. I don’t see how delta is doing us any favors. I need a full refund, not a credit or voucher. I don’t know where or even if I will be going on a vacation within a year from now. Definitely not by December 2020. And if I do, it may not be with Delta. These airlines are asking for and will be getting billions in financial help from the feds, but we are at the mercy of their greed. Let’s see if they do the right thing.

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