American Airlines is eliminating change fees on most international tickets originating in the Americas. Will Delta and United now try outdo American?
American Airlines Eliminates Change Fees On Longhaul International Tickets
Effective immediately, American Airlines will no longer charge change fees on longhaul international cabins with three caveats. First, this change fee waiver will apply only to flights originating in North or South America. Second, the waiver will not apply to Basic Economy tickets. Third, the waiver will not apply to all partners booked via American Airlines. The waiver will include the following joint venture partners booked directly with AA:
- British Airways
- Japan Airlines
Other codeshare partners booked via American Airlines may incur fees. Also note that if you book an American Airlines flight with another airlines, like with British Airways, you may still be responsible for a change fee for voluntary changes.
Vasu Raja, American’s Chief Revenue Officer, noted:
“We are committed to making travel easier for our customers who fly on American. By eliminating change fees, we’re giving customers more flexibility no matter when or where they plan to travel.”
Indeed, with these fees waived passengers will have carte blanche to make changes to just about any ticket booked with AA. Understand that if your change is voluntary, you will be issued travel credit, not a cash refund.
American also announced it would waive telephone booking fees.
Will Delta + United Match?
I asked United if it would be matching and received the following statement:
United was the first legacy airline to announce it would permanently eliminate change fees, and that policy currently includes Basic Economy and International tickets booked through the end of this year. United plans to announce an extension of its change fee waiver for Basic Economy and International tickets later this year to continue to offer more flexibility to all customers who travel with us.
A Delta spokesperson did not return my email, but I expect Delta will match as well.
My guess is that both will match tomorrow, perhaps even before this post is published. The bigger question is whether Delta or United will go even further. Perhaps United will allow free changes worldwide or Delta will not exempt Basic Economy class tickets?
When it comes to the Big 3 legacy airlines, one tends to follow the other. Expect concrete news from United and more news from Delta later today.
Kudos to American Airlines for broadening its change fee waiver to include longhaul international travel. Frankly, I saw the move as necessary and expected this would come, but was not sure who would move first. It was nice to see AA lead in this respect.
Will the elimination of international change fees cause you to direct more business to U.S. airlines?