Oh Great, Change Fees and Other Airline Travel Annoyances Are Back

Some of those pandemic-based ticket waivers and credits are set to expire

American Airlines agents check in a passenger at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA on Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Pandemic-related ticket waivers may be expiring soon.
Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The airlines, it seems, are ready to go back to the way things were before the pandemic. First, Delta took back the empty middle seat to pack in more passengers. And now, airlines are adding back the change fees and other penalties we all remember and hate from before COVID-19.

As noted by USA Today, many airlines are getting rid of the travel waivers that were started early last year. American and Frontier’s pandemic waivers already expired, while Spirit, United, Delta, Alaska and Hawaiian are set to end their travel waivers sometime in the next couple months. Although, these have the potential to change quickly: JetBlue, for instance, just today extended their travel waiver program to the end of May.

(Also announced today and somewhat related: If you change your flight on United and your new itinerary is cheaper than your old one, you’ll get back the difference with an electronic travel certificate.)

While expensive change fees for regular tickets may be permanently gone, basic economy and no-frills reservations may now be subject to charges … or you may even just lose the ticket with no refund or travel credit at all.

As the article suggests, you should read the fine print on your ticket, check your airline’s policies (they change frequently) and really consider buying something above a basic economy ticket so you’ll have some protection if plans change. Which, in this current environment, is entirely possible. As well, Allegiant and Southwest either have open-ended travel waivers or never charged a change fee, if you want to check out a different airline.


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