The majority of airlines are waiving change and cancellation fees for at least the next couple of months, or in some cases, through the end of the year. Many carriers are also offering the ability to cancel upcoming flights online in exchange for a refund in the form of a travel voucher. That’s a convenient option for those interested in an airline travel credit or who want to cancel a flight that is still scheduled to operate. But it’s important for passengers to know that in certain cases, they may be entitled to a cash refund instead. According to regulations from the Department of Transportation, if any airline operating within the U.S. cancels or significantly changes the timing of a flight, it must offer customers a cash refund, not just a travel credit.
Here is the latest information for major international airlines’ coronavirus change and cancellation policies.
Cancelled flights are eligible for full refund. Alaska is allowing no-fee changes and cancellations to the following:
Tickets purchased on or before February 26, 2020 for travel through December 31, 2020 have two levels of waivers:
- If you purchased a Saver fare for travel through December 31, 2020, you may cancel your trip without a fee and receive credit for future travel through one year of your original flight date .
- If you purchased a nonrefundable First Class, main or award ticket for travel through June 30, 2020, you may Change your trip without a fee. New travel must be completed by one year of your original flight date. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary. You can also cancel your trip without a fee and receive a credit for future travel.
- New tickets purchased between February 27, 2020 and June 30, 2020: Non-refundable first class, main cabin and award tickets may be changed for no fee, with new travel completed by April 30, 2021, or cancelled with travel funds placed into your Alaska Account or a credit card certificate via email. Fare difference applies.
- If you have a valid credit in your Wallet that was deposited before March 1, 2020, your booking expiration date will be extended by 6 months. You do not need to travel before that 6-month extension date – you just need to book your ticket by then.
- For those of you who canceled flights due to COVID-19 impacts between March 1 and July 31, 2020, the credits in your Wallet will be extended to purchase through July 5, 2021 for travel through May 31, 2022.
Alaska normally charges $125 to change or cancel a ticket booked with Mileage Plan miles. Under its coronavirus fee waiver, you can change or cancel your ticket for free if you booked before February 26 for travel through December 31, or if you booked a ticket between February 27 and June 30 for travel anytime in the next year. You’ll need to pay for any difference in the mileage cost. Note that if you cancel, any cash you paid for taxes and fees as part of your award ticket may be returned in the form of Alaska Airlines credit rather than refunded to your credit card.
Alaska Airlines’ Full Policy
- American Airlines has announced 60% domestic and 80% international cuts in capacity through July. Cancelled flights are eligible for refund. We are also seeing reports that American is offering a bonus for those customers who choose fight credit as opposed to a cash refund.
- American Airlines is allowing customers who bought tickets before April 30, 2020 with scheduled travel until September 30, 2020 to rebook without a change fee. Tickets need to be changed and travel must start before December 31, 2021. You’ll have to pay for any fare difference.
- Cash tickets booked between March 1 and July 31, 2020 for any date and tickets purchased June 1-30 for travel before September 30, 2020 can also be changed fee-free. This policy now applies to award tickets as well.
American normally allows you to change your travel dates for free on award tickets (except for Web Special fares) as long as you keep the same origin and destination. With its current coronavirus waiver (valid for tickets booked before March 1 for travel through September 30, or for any tickets booked in through April 15), you should also be able to change your origin and destination without a fee; if your new trip requires more miles, you’ll need to pay the difference.
American Airlines’s Full Policy
Delta Air Lines
Delta has announced a slow resumption of services over the next few months. Cancelled flights are eligible for refund.
Tickets normally expire one year after purchase, but Delta is providing waived change fees and greater flexibility to travel through September 30, 2022, for customers who:
- Have upcoming travel already booked between now and September 30 as of April 17, 2020
- Have canceled travel from flights between March 2020 and September 2020
- New tickets purchased between March 1 and July 31, 2020, can be changed without a change fee for up to a year from the date of purchase.
- If you are traveling soon and can’t reach a Delta specialist, Delta has announced that all changes will be processed and applicable credits will be issued, even if you do not reach customer service before your flight.
Delta usually charges $150 to change or cancel an award ticket. However, award flights that qualify for a change fee waiver will have mile redeposit fees waived.
Delta’s Full Policy
Frontier has announced a slow resumption of flights to 18 cities this summer. Cancelled flights are eligible for refund.
- Tickets may only may be modified or refunded for flight credit one time. Fare differences will apply. Frontier’s flight credits are only valid for 90 days from the cancellation date. For changed flights, travel must be completed by November 9, 2020.
- Bookings made between July 2, 2020 and July 31, 2020 will be permitted a one-time change to travel plans without a fee, when the change is made 7 or more days prior to departure.
- Customers traveling to or from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, or Texas with original travel dates through July 31, 2020 will be permitted a one-time change to travel plans without a fee.
- For bookings made 03/10/20 through 04/15/20: Customers may make a one-time change to their itinerary without a change/cancel fee.
- For bookings made on or after 04/16/20: Cancel fees are up to $119 per person and Change fees are up to $119 per person.
Frontier’s Full Policy
Hawaiian Airlines has announced 3 flights daily to the mainland through the summer. Cancelled flights will be refunded.
- If you were unable to contact the airline to cancel or rebook your trip before your flight departure time, your ticket number automatically becomes credit for future travel if you do not take your scheduled flight.
- Tickets (including award flights) purchased between March 1 and July 31, 2020: No change fees for any changes made within two (2) years of the original ticket purchase date. A fare difference may apply.
- Tickets (including award flights) purchased before March 1, 2020 with travel dates between March 1, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021: No change fees for rebooked travel that begins on or before May 31, 2022. A fare difference may apply.
Hawaiian Airlines’ Full Policy
- Jetblue has announced at least a 70% reduction in capacity through the summer. Cancelled flights are eligible for refund.
- Book a new flight through July 31 and fees will be waived if you change or cancel. If you choose to rebook, you can do so on any flight through the end of our schedule. Fare difference may apply.
- We’re waiving change/cancel fees for customers with existing bookings made through July 31. If you choose to rebook, you can do so on any flight through the end of our schedule. Fare difference may apply.
If you used JetBlue TrueBlue points to book a ticket, normally you’d have to pay a fee of $75 to $200 for changes and cancellations, depending on the original cost of your ticket. Under its coronavirus travel waiver, you can change or cancel your ticket for free. You’ll have to pay any difference in the mileage cost, and any cash you paid for taxes and fees will be deposited into your JetBlue wallet, valid for two years.
JetBlue’s Full Policy
Southwest Airlines is suspending international flights to the Caribbean and Mexico starting March 22, 2020. This is part of a wider cut of 1,000 flights—40% of Southwest’s operation. These cuts are expected to remain in place through at least the rest of the summer.
- Southwest Airlines it already offers the most generous change and cancellation policies in the airline industry. As long as you change your ticket ten minutes before flight time, you can get your flight re-booked or refunded into travel credit without penalty. You’ll just have to pay any fare difference that applies when you re-book your flight. Note that travel funds are good for one year from original departure date and must be used by the person whose name is listed on the ticket.
- That said, Southwest has made special accommodations for COVID-19. If you would like to rebook, you may change your travel up to 60 days from your original flight. Flights that have seats available will display as “Available.” However, if you want to rebook be sure to check the price of the new flight first. Many times it will be cheaper than what you paid for your original ticket. In that case, you are better off refunding your ticket and spending the travel funds you receive towards the new ticket.
- Customers’ funds that have expired or will expire between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020, will now expire September 7, 2022.
- Any travel funds created because you cancel a flight between March 1 – September 7, 2020, will expire September 7, 2022.
If you used Southwest Rapid Rewards points to book your flight, you probably already know that you can change or cancel your ticket for free at any time before departure. If you do plan on traveling, be sure to check ticket prices occasionally—if fares drop, you can change your ticket or cancel and rebook and get the difference in miles back.
United Airlines has announced up to 75% cuts to its schedule over the next few months. Cancelled flights are eligible for refund.
- If your travel plans have been disrupted and you have a voucher good for future travel, you now have two years from the date of issue to book a new flight plus 11 months beyond that date that you can travel.
- All tickets purchased prior to March 3, 2020 for travel until December 31, 2020 can be re-booked as long as changes are made prior to July 31, 2020. New tickets must be reissued within 24 months from original ticket date.
- Electronic certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020
- A fare difference will apply for more expensive tickets. If the new ticket is cheaper than the one you purchased, the difference will not be refunded. In that case you are better off cancelling the ticket and rebooking at the cheaper price.
- Electronic certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020.
United is now also waiving all redeposit fees for award ticket cancellations made more than 30 days before departure for the remainder of 2020.
United’s Full Policy
This story was last updated on July 18, 2020.