Apparently it's so hot in Phoenix that at least one airline — American — is letting travelers rebook for free, change fees waived.
Now, there's plenty of bad news in this story.
Especially if you live in Phoenix, where the forecast is calling for a high of 120 — 120 Fahrenheit degrees — on Tuesday. Engineering suffers in heat that intense: "Higher temperatures thin the air, allowing less air to flow through the engines, producing less thrust. This also affects aircraft weight, takeoff speed and required runway length," says AZ Central. Which means the airline needs to build additional breaks, and curtail non-critical tasks, until the heat wave is over.
The good news here? American's flexibility. Instead of waiting for flights to be delayed, the airline is giving passengers traveling through Phoenix from now through Wednesday the ability to reschedule at no additional cost, as long as they're not moving between cabins (like from economy to business) or changing their origin or destination city. Domestic passengers can usually make the change online, without calling customer service. And Phoenix isn't the only airport: at this moment, if you check American's Travel Alerts page, passengers traveling through 12 airports, from D.C. to Newburgh, have the option to easily rebook their travel — without going to the airport and without waiting for a cancellation to happen.
Passengers' ability to proactively change their itinerary, in advance of storms (or heat) was hailed last year as a big potential win, and so it's proven to be. Anecdotally: fee-free changes are so frequent, especially during the snowstorm- and thunderstorm-rich seasons of summer and winter, that we'll check there before calling in with an itinerary change — and the last two out of three times we did, we got lucky.
Until all airlines move to Southwest's wonderful no-fee change system, this is a solid step in the right direction.