Update 3/10/2020: United has also expanded the waived change fees to include flights purchased on or before March 2 for travel from March 9 to April 30, 2020. This allows you to change your flight to one that takes place by December 31, 2020 or within one year of when you first booked it, whichever date comes first.
Update 3/9/2020: Delta has now expanded the waived change fees to include flights purchased on or before March 9th for travel March 1 – April 30 2020. Rebooked travel must begin by December 31 2020.
Update 3/4/2020: Delta has now expanded the waived change fees to include all flights purchased from March 1-31, 2020 (domestic and international) regardless of when travel is scheduled to occur. You will still owe any difference in fare and you will be allowed to change without a fee to another flight within a year of the original booking date. Note that cancellation is not covered.
We’ve seen an increasing number of airlines in recent days announcing that they’ll be waiving change fees. They’ve been seeing a drop in reservations as a result of Coronavirus concerns, with Alaska, JetBlue and American Airlines all updating their policies to encourage people to continue booking flights.
They’ve been joined today by Delta and United who have both announced new policies. These two airlines are taking different approaches though, so here’s what you need to know.
You can find Delta’s announcement here. They’re offering a one-time waiving of change fees,
but only for international flights which includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Update 3/4/20: This now includes all flights, both domestic and international. This is valid for flights booked from March 1-31, 2020 for travel through the end of the schedule (February 2021).
Although change fees are waived, you’ll have to pay the difference if the change results in a higher fare. What isn’t made clear in their announcement is if award flights are eligible with this policy or only paid flights.
You can find United’s announcement here. United has a more generous policy than Delta as both international and domestic flights are eligible for the change fee waiver. The dates are somewhat similar to Delta’s in that change fees will be waived for flights booked from March 3-31 (rather than from March 1) and they’ll allow you to rebook your flights up to 12 months from the original date that your ticket was issued.
If the new flight is more expensive, you’ll have to pay the difference. If the new flight is cheaper, it doesn’t look like they’ll refund you for the difference which is somewhat understandable. United has stated that this policy will be in force for all tickets, fare types, destinations, etc., so this does seem to be available for both paid and award flights, so long as your ticket number begins with 016.