Editor’s note: We’re constantly updating this post with the latest information about airline change and cancellation waivers.
Major airlines in the U.S. and abroad are going to extraordinary lengths to give more flexibility due to the uncertainty about coronavirus, allowing free one-time changes and cancellations.
Airlines – and ticket sales – are clearly suffering as uncertainty about the spread of coronavirus has paralyzed travelers. These travel waivers for free changes to almost any flight are the airlines’ way of trying to drum up more business by offering travelers more certainty in a fast-changing environment.
And while airlines initially only extended these waivers to new bookings, that has changed. More and more carriers are granting waivers for free change or cancellation for upcoming travel, regardless of when it was booked. Importantly, you typically won’t get a refund for canceling these flights, but a voucher or credit for future travel.
Critically, even basic economy tickets can be changed or canceled for free. And some airlines are treating award tickets booked with miles the same as cash fares, waiving fees to cancel and get your miles back.
Here’s a look at how each airline is offering travelers more flexibility when booking travel amid the outbreak, starting with U.S. airlines and moving into some recent international airlines. Book your flight with miles? We’ve got you covered there, too.
Breaking Down U.S. Airlines’ Coronavirus Travel Waivers
JetBlue was the first major airline to issue a broad waiver for travelers concerned about the virus, but its competitors have rapidly followed suit. Here’s a look at what each carrier is doing to give would-be travelers a bit more flexibility:
Any ticket for an Alaska Airlines flight can be changed or canceled without a fee when it’s booked from Feb. 27 through April 30. Additionally, any ticket for travel by May 31 can be canceled or changed without a fee regardless of when it was booked. Fare differences may still apply. Read more on Alaska’s policy.
Any ticket for an American Airlines flight purchased between March 1 and April 30 can be canceled for a voucher or changed without paying a fee – so long as rebooked travel occurs within a year of the date the tickets were originally booked. You can also change any travel between March 10 and May 31 for free so long as it was booked before March 1. Fare differences may apply. Rebooked travel must occur by Dec. 31 at the latest. Read more on American’s policy.
Delta Air Lines
For starters, any ticket booked by May 31 (even for travel in the far future) can be changed or canceled for free, getting a voucher for future travel.
As of April 3, any upcoming domestic or international flight scheduled through May 31 is eligible for a free one-time change or can be canceled for a voucher. And now, Delta is giving travelers who have to cancel these flights a full two years to rebook travel. Fare differences may still apply.
And if you’re struggling to get through to Delta to change or cancel, don’t worry – the airline will automatically issue an eCredit for the value of any flight you miss through April.
Read more about Delta’s waivers.
Any JetBlue flight booked from Thursday, March 27 through April 30 can be changed or canceled without a fee, but only for travel through Oct. 24, 2020. Previously booked flights for travel by May 31 can also be changed for free, or canceled without a fee for a travel credit that is good for up to 18 months. Both cash bookings and award tickets booked with points are eligible. Canceled flights will get a travel credit for JetBlue. Read more on JetBlue’s policy.
Spirit is allowing a free, one-time change to any flight. Travelers can also cancel a flight and get the value back in a voucher that must be used within six months. Read more on Spirit’s policy.
All Southwest tickets can always be canceled or changed without incurring a fee, though fare differences may still apply.
Budget carrier Sun Country is waiving all change and cancellation fees for any travel scheduled through May 31, 2020. Just use the airline’s MyTrips system to do so.
The airline also waives change and cancellation fees for all flights at least 60 days ahead of departure. Read more on Sun Country’s policy.
All domestic and international United flights booked between March 3-April 30 can be changed without a fee – just beware that if you change to or rebook a cheaper fare, United will pocket the difference. Additionally, United is also waiving change fees for previously booked travel scheduled between March 10 and May 31. Read more on United’s policy.
Keep in mind that some of these policies could – and likely will – expand as the coronavirus outbreak evolves.
The savings can be enormous. Most major U.S. airlines typically charge $200 to change a domestic ticket – and the cost can be much higher for international reservations.
What About Award Tickets Booked with Miles?
You’re in luck – maybe.
Many of these same major U.S. airlines are applying the same free change and cancellation policies to award tickets booked using miles. But it varies by situation, so read closely.
- Alaska Airlines: Alaska is treating award bookings essentially the same as cash tickets. That means any previously booked award tickets scheduled between Feb. 26 and April 30 can be canceled to get your Mileage Plan miles back free. The same is true for new award tickets booked between Feb. 27 and March 31.
- American Airlines: American is waiving its $150 redeposit fee to cancel tickets booked with AAdvantage miles for travel through May 31. However, that does not apply to new award tickets booked with AAdvantage miles by April 15.
- Delta: Delta has among the most generous policies for SkyMiles award tickets. Any flight booked with SkyMiles scheduled for travel through May 31 or for new travel booked by April 15 can be canceled to get your miles back for free.
- Southwest: Same as always – you can change or cancel your flight booked with Rapid Rewards points for free.
- United: United allows you to change a mileage redemption without paying a fee, but canceling to get your miles back will cost you between $75 and $125.
International Airlines’ Waivers
Major international airlines have joined up and begun waiving change fees. And in many cases, they’re more generous than their U.S. competitors.
Here’s a look at some of the major international carriers’ new policies, which we’ll update frequently:
- Aer Lingus: Aer Lingus says it will waive all change fees, and its website does not specify any limits.
- Air Canada: You can get one free change to any Air Canada ticket booked before April 15, 2020 – regardless of when you travel. All rescheduled travel must occur by April 30, 2021.
- Air France/KLM: All tickets purchased by March 31, 2020 can be changed for free for travel by May 31, or canceled for a voucher that is valid for 12 months.
- Air New Zealand: Air New Zealand is waiving change fees for all travel booked between March 5 and March 31. If you booked flights on or before March 4 for long-haul travel scheduled through June 30, you can also change the flight for free or cancel for a voucher.
- British Airways: Any British Airways flights between the U.S. and Europe through April 11 can be changed free for travel by Aug. 1, 2020 or canceled for a voucher. Plus, any tickets booked in the month of March can be changed free or canceled for a voucher.
- Icelandair: Icelandair is not charging change fees for tickets booked between March 3 and March 16 for travel before June 1, 2020.
- Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti: All Lufthansa Group airlines are waiving rebooking fees for flights booked until March 31 – so long as rebooked travel occurs by Dec. 31, 2020. Lufthansa Group airlines are also waiving rebooking fees for previously booked flights scheduled for before May 1, 2020.
- TAP Air Portugal: TAP is allowing a free, one-time change on all tickets booked between March 8 and March 31. Flights must be changed at least 21 days before departure. Fare differences may apply.
- Qatar Airways: Qatar Airways is waiving change fees for all flights up to June 30, 2020 regardless of when the tickets were booked. Travelers can cancel and receive a voucher for the value of their ticket. Travel must be changed or canceled at least three days before departure.
It’s good to see more and more airlines stepping up to give travelers more flexibility and peace of mind. Whether you’ve got