Delta Air Lines Permanently Eliminates International Change Fees

Filed Under: Delta

Delta is following American’s lead… for once.

Delta eliminates international change fees

This spring we saw US airlines introduce temporary change fee waivers, in light of everything going on. Then we saw US airlines largely permanently eliminate change fees for domestic US flights. Now we’re seeing airlines permanently eliminate change fees for international tickets as well.

Effective immediately, Delta Air Lines is eliminating change fees for all international tickets (including on joint venture and codeshare partners), as long as travel originates in North America. This includes Delta SkyMiles award tickets, and the 72-hour advance cancelation policy has even been eliminated. The one exception is basic economy tickets, where this policy doesn’t apply.

With this new policy, Delta no longer has change fees for any tickets originating in North America (Delta permanently eliminated domestic change fees back in August).

When passengers take advantage of the no change fee policy, they’ll be able to keep the full value of eligible tickets if they change their travel plans. Any fare differences will still apply if the flight you change to is more expensive (meanwhile if the flight you change to is less expensive, you’ll get a credit for the difference).

As Delta CEO Ed Bastian describes this move:

“No year has better demonstrated the value of flexibility than this one. Our approach has always been to put people first, which is why we’re extending our current change fee waiver and making lasting changes to our practices, so customers have the trust and confidence they need long after the pandemic ends.”

Global waiver extended through March 31, 2021

In addition to permanently eliminating change fees on domestic and international tickets originating in North America, Delta has also extended its global travel waiver.

Delta is waiving change fees for all US domestic and international tickets purchased through March 31, 2021. This even applies for travel on subsequent dates, and also applies to basic economy tickets.

Bottom line

Delta is now permanently waiving change fees on all non-basic economy tickets originating in North America (and through March 31, 2021, even basic economy tickets have waived change fees).

This is a fantastic change to see, though for once American deserves credit for innovating, because Delta is following American’s lead here.

At this point United has by far the weakest policy of the “big three” US airlines. While United was the first to eliminate domestic change fees, the policy is punitive (you forfeit your ticket credit if you book a less expensive ticket, unlike at American and Delta), and the airline hasn’t eliminated international change fees yet.

What do you make of Delta permanently eliminating international change fees?

  1. Why do people insist on using “permanent”? They simply are eliminating a fee. How long it lasts is unknown.

    Almost as stupid as “socially distancing”. No one has to social distance since you can use the phone, facetime, zoom, etc. You only should physically distance yourself from others.

  2. I really have to wonder once this industry recovers (which might be with fewer but bigger carriers) will change fees come back. They’ve got to be a sizable driver of profit margins for the industry. A standard $200 domestic change fee might what cost the airline a buck or two to process.

  3. Why do you say permanently? Delta never used the word “permanently” in their statement. They simply haven’t established an expiration on the updated policy. The industry is dynamic. I can guarantee you that once we are full post-vid all changes fees will be re-introduced.

  4. @ iflyfar — Delta uses the word “permanently” four times in the press release…

    And I’ve made the same point you’re making in several previous posts, so I don’t disagree.

  5. If change fees are permanently eliminated why is there even a special waiver until March for change fees? The no change fee rule is now effective immediately right?

  6. The smarter thing for them I worry is to keep the fees only on basic but then start to increase the price difference between basic and normal economy. Keep an eye out on that price gap widening in the coming year

  7. Tangentially, should be interesting to see where TSA data heads in this dark winter, away from the holidays. Looks like yesterday was the quietest day at US airports since June.

  8. @Ben – Your title and a couple other places throughout the post need to better reflect that they aren’t permanently eliminating them, they are simply removing them from non-Basic Economy fares. You call it out a bit, but still use Delta’s PR fluff throughout your post, such as at the end (“What do you make of Delta permanently eliminating international change fees?”).

    For those above in the comments thinking it won’t be permanent, I disagree. They’ll only scale up the fare difference from Basic Economy to the point it could eventually be hundreds of dollars between the 2 fare classes where non-Basic Y is the new Flexible Fare and Basic is what people are used to.

  9. Permanent is meaningless. They have already laid the groundwork by excluding Basic Economy fares. Just a matter of time until it is extended to everything except full fare Y and J…..which is where we were pre-covid.
    That said, its good news for the short term

  10. “Permanent”, aka “until business picks back up again to normal and we can get away with increasing fees because demand for our services is so inelastic that people will put up with the fees, thus increasing our profit”

  11. This is too funny. The comment section is completely within their right to be skeptical about “permanent”, however Ben is also correct that Delta uses the word multiple times in their statement.

    In the future, if they do bring it back, can that statement be used against them legally?

  12. Agree with all the cynical comments above pointing out how Delta is full of crap, this is just temporary, they will do what they can to squeeze customers as soon as they can get away with it.

    Add to the list of exclusions worth highlighting: flights returning to the USA from other departure points (language says it only applies to flights originating in the US). So if you book a one-way flight home, this doesn’t apply to you.

    And…not any mention of the fees to cancel/redeposit skypesos for award flights.

  13. @rich and @Ben – Who cares if Delta uses permanently. You’re reporting on what’s going on. If they said this was the greatest thing ever, you wouldn’t parrot that, would you? Apply some journalistic rigor to the press release.

    “Indefinite” is a much preferred term to “permanent”.

  14. Wasn’t aware that United had International change fees? I’ve had to cancel Euro (LHR, CDG, FRA) flights bc I can’t enter as US Passport holder without change fee(s). I’ve received either a Travel cert (preferred) or Future flight voucher (more restricted in that you must rebook w value at or greater than voucher or you lose it).

  15. I’m assuming this applies to a round trip, but I keep seeing reference to travel/tickets originating in North America. I’m assuming this means that the return leg can also be changed as well?

  16. Time for someone to call out United on being the only one not to give residual credit for a change to a lower-priced ticket.

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