Delta has just updated their change fee waiver for the third time in the past few days. At first they took a rather strict approach, and now they’ve matched United’s policy. It’s interesting to see Delta matching United for once.
Delta first waived change fees on international itineraries (March 2)
Since Monday, Delta Air Lines has been waiving change fees for international itineraries purchased between March 1 and March 31, 2020. This applies to all travel outside the United States, as well as to travel to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Delta then expanded the waiver to previously booked tickets (March 3)
On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines started waiving change fees for international itineraries involving travel between March 1 and March 31, 2020, even if tickets were purchased prior to March 1. With this policy, passengers could rebooked for travel through May 31, 2020.
Delta expands change fee waivers to all itineraries (March 4)
With the latest update, Delta Air Lines is waiving change fees for all itineraries purchased between March 1 and March 31, 2020, including domestic itineraries, regardless of when travel is scheduled to occur.
With this waiver you’ll have the opportunity to avoid the typical change fee (often $200) and reschedule your travel for anytime within a year of the original date of issue.
Note that you’ll still be on the hook for whatever the fare difference is between your old ticket and your new ticket. You just won’t have to pay the change fees.
What we can conclude based on Delta’s waiver
Airlines are suffering because of the uncertainty created by coronavirus, and in general it’s pretty clear that airlines are waiving change fees as a way of encouraging people to book travel.
At first Delta was unique in restricting their fee waiver to international itineraries — I guess initially Delta thought they’d be the hardest hit on international itineraries, but didn’t feel like the domestic situation was that bad.
This policy update suggests to me that Delta is really suffering on the domestic front as well. Delta doesn’t generally match United “just because,” so I imagine their future bookings are looking pretty bad at this point.
As I’ve said with all airlines, they’re not waiving change fees because they’re kind or even really because they care, but rather because bookings are down and they’re trying to encourage future bookings.
This does open up some potentially useful opportunities to plan travel for the future and avoid change fees.
Is anyone booking Delta travel this month to avoid change fees?