Editor’s note: We’re constantly updating this post with the latest information about airline change and cancellation waivers. It was last updated April 1, 2021.
Major airlines in the U.S. and abroad have gone to extraordinary lengths to give travelers more flexibility due to the uncertainty about coronavirus, allowing free one-time changes and cancellations to both new and previously booked tickets for the past year. After saying those policies were set to end, some airlines are giving travelers another month to book risk-free.
Trying to plan a trip for later in 2021 or even 2022? Many major U.S. airlines have also extended waivers to give free change and cancellation on any new ticket (including for future travel) booked before the end of April 2021 – including basic economy fares. Most recently, Delta extended that policy to new tickets booked by April 30, 2021. And many other airlines are matching.
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. Importantly, you typically won’t get a refund for canceling these flights, but a voucher or credit for future travel.
Want a full refund instead of a voucher for future travel? Read our guide on getting refunds from your airline.
Domestic and international tickets alike qualify for free change or cancellation. And some airlines are treating award tickets booked with miles the same as cash fares, waiving fees to cancel and get your miles back.
That’s important, as these temporary waivers go even further than airlines’ recent moves to permanently eliminate change fees because even the cheapest basic economy fares qualify.
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.
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 so long as you book your tickets by April 30, 2021.
Barring a change of heart, the days of free change and cancellation on any American Airlines fare are over.
While its competitors have extended those policies, American let it lapse on March 31, 2021. That means you’ll have to buy at least a main cabin fare to get a one-time free change or cancellation.
Delta Air Lines
For starters, any ticket booked by April 30, 2021 (even for travel in the far future) can be changed or canceled for free, getting a voucher for future travel. Delta just recently extended this policy. Cancel for a voucher, and it will last all the way through December 2022.
And now, Delta is giving travelers who have to cancel upcoming flights more than two full years to rebook travel, through Dec. 31, 2022. Fare differences may still apply.
As of April 1, you can still change or cancel newJetBlue basic economy fares. You’ll just have to pay for it.
More expensive Blue fares and up can still be changed or canceled for free going forward. But if you buy a Blue Basic fare, you’ll have to pay $100 to change or cancel a flight within the U.S. or to the Mexico or Caribbean, and $200 for all other routes.
Both cash bookings and award tickets booked with points are eligible. Canceled flights will get a travel credit for JetBlue.
Spirit is waiving change and cancellation fees on all fares booked before April 4, 2021. Canceling will get you a flight credit for the full amount of your booking.
All Southwest tickets can always be canceled or changed without incurring a fee, though fare differences may still apply.
Sun Country doesn’t have a special policy in place to handle change or cancellation during COVID-19. But its normal change policy waives change and cancellation fees for all flights at least 60 days ahead of departure.
All new domestic and international United flights booked by April 30, 2021 can be changed without a fee – just beware that if you change to or rebook a cheaper fare, United may pocket the difference.
All vouchers from canceled flights should be valid through the end of April 2022.
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, 2021 can be canceled to get your Mileage Plan miles back free. The same is true for new award tickets booked by March 31, 2021.
- American Airlines: American has completely eliminated its $150 redeposit fees for award tickets.
- Delta: Delta has among the most generous policies for SkyMiles award tickets. Any flight booked with SkyMiles scheduled for travel through April 30, 2021 or for new travel booked by April 30, 2021 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, and it will waive redeposit fees for all award travel so long as you cancel more than 30 days before departure.
It’s good to see more and more airlines stepping up to give travelers more flexibility and peace of mind. Watch this space, as this will continue to change.