Alaska matches JetBlue: no change or cancellation fees (temporarily)

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Update 3/13/20: Alaska has now expanded this policy quite a bit as follows (See our Coronavirus cancellation policies complete guide for more):

Link to waiver policy

For tickets purchased on or before February 26, 2020 for travel 3/6-4/30/20:

    • If you purchased a Saver fare for travel through April 30, 2020, you may:
      • Cancel your trip and deposit the funds into your My Account wallet.
    • If you purchased a nonrefundable First Class, main, or award ticket for travel through April 30, 2020, you may:
      • Change without fee. New travel must be completed by February 28, 2021. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary.
      • Cancel your trip and deposit the funds into My Account wallet or credit card certificate via email.

For tickets purchased 2/27 to March 31, 2020:

    • If you purchase a Saver fare between February 27, 2020 and March 31, 2020 for travel through February 28, 2021, you may:
      • Cancel your trip and deposit the funds into your My Account wallet.
    • If you purchase a nonrefundable First Class, main, or award ticket between February 27, 2020 and March 31, 2020 for travel through February 28, 2021, you may:
      • Change without fee. New travel must be completed by February 28, 2021. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary.
      • Cancel your trip and deposit the funds into My Account wallet or credit card certificate via email.

Original post follows for history’s sake, but note that the above is the latest and see our complete guide for the most up-to-date info.

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Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that they are matching competitor JetBlue’s offer for no change or cancellation fees on flights booked between 2/27/20 and 3/12/20 for travel by June 1, 2020.

As noted in the screen shot above, this applies to the chance and cancellation fees on tickets booked within the window for travel by June 1st. Essentially, if you book a ticket right now for travel by June 1st and change your mind, you can refund the travel to your My Alaska wallet and apply it toward a future trip with travel completed by December 21, 2020.

As we noted with JetBlue, this is obviously aimed at selling more tickets. The airlines realize that there is uncertainty that is preventing folks from planning travel at the moment. They’re offering some peace of mind that you can cancel and apply the money toward a future trip with the hopes of enticing you to book a trip that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s a smart move that is a win-win in my opinion.

That said, remember that you’ll pay the fare difference if you want to change and you will not get a refund. Furthermore, Alaska’s terms clearly stipulate that new travel must be completed by 12/31/20 (I’d assumed that with JetBlue the new travel must be completed within a year of the date of booking).

If you did not book your ticket within the applicable window but decide that you’d like to make a change, it’s still worth calling and pleading your case. As we discussed in a Frequent Miler On the Air podcast recently, Greg had a trip within Asia booked with Alaska miles and the agent he spoke with waived the cancellation fee before there were waivers in place. If one agent refuses, it’s probably worth calling again. There is of course no guarantee that someone will be more generous than policy stipulates, but my interactions with Alaska’s customer service have generally been pretty good.

See full details of Alaska’s waiver here.

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