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 from airlines around the world on where they are flying, what routes have been halted, and how to get a refund on any impending international trip that needs to be postponed or canceled.
For its cheapest fare class, the “saver fare,” purchased through April 30, 2020, originally for travel through February 21, 2021, Alaska Airlines is allowing cancellations for a refund in the form of a travel credit. Passengers with nonrefundable first-class or economy tickets (purchased in the same date range) can cancel for a refund in the form of a travel credit or make a one-time change for free, but travel must be completed by the end of February 2021. All changes must be made prior to the departure of the original flight.
Because of the amount of calls Alaska is getting to its reservations lines, the carrier is advising customers to cancel or change their bookings online. It has a helpful how-to page if you’re not sure what changing a booking online entails.
Among the U.S. carriers that have begun making massive flight suspensions is American Airlines, which recently said it will reduce its international flights by 75 percent into May and grounding its entire fleet of wide-body aircraft. On the chopping block are many flights to Europe; American has also halted all flights to and from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong until April 23 or 24, depending on the city pairs, and is stopping its route from Dallas-Fort Worth to Seoul, South Korea from March 4 to April 25.
The carrier has announced that it has extended its offer to waive all change fees for all new bookings through May 31. The airline says the offer applies to any of its published fares and changes must be made at least 14 days before travel. On top of waiving change fees for new bookings, American is also eliminating fees for changes on reservations purchased on or before April 7 for travel through September 30. Passengers have until December 31, 2021, to complete travel. Go to its travel alerts page for specific information on the restrictions for changes.
Delta Air Lines
Delta is making sweeping cuts to its route network, with more than 80 percent of its international flights suspended over the next three months until demand rebounds. Among the flights it has halted are all of its flights to continental Europe and many to Asia. The airline is advising affected customers to log in to the “My Trip” section of its website to see their options, which “include rebooking on alternate Delta flights, rebooking on flights after April 30, rebooking on alternate or partner airlines, refunds or contacting us to discuss additional options.”
Delta is also waiving change fees for two years (through May 31, 2022) for passengers with flights that were purchased before April 3 for travel in April and May 2020. The two-year travel window also applies to passengers with eCredits or canceled flights from March, April, and May. The Atlanta–based carrier is also waiving change fees preemptively for all international flights booked through May 31.
JetBlue is waiving all change and cancellation fees for passengers traveling through May 31, 2020. Those passengers can rebook for travel through January 4, 2021. The New York–based carrier also says that for new flights purchased between March 27 to April 30 for travel through January 2, 2021, all cancellations and changes would be free. (The fees suspension still applies for bookings made between February 27 and March 5, 2020 for travel through June 1, 2020, and for bookings made between March 6 and March 26, 2020 for travel through September 8, 2020.)
The airline also said that it plans to reduce at least 40 percent of its flights this spring, and from April 15 to June 10, JetBlue plans to significantly reduce operations in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., leaving only a critical number of flights for passengers who absolutely must fly.
United has announced that it will suspended 90 percent of its international flights and reduce 42 percent of its network throughout the U.S. and Canada. For any passengers scheduled to fly through the end of the year, the airline is allowing changes at no cost, as long as any changes are made by April 30. That policy is in addition to allowing anyone purchasing new international or domestic airfares between March 3 and April 30 to change the dates and times of their flights with no charge for up to a year after the ticket was issued. Passengers who cancel their flights can request an electronic travel certificate for the value of their ticket, which will remain valid for two years after it is issued.
This story was last published on March 23, 2020. It has been updated with new information.