Delta is “permanently” eliminating change fees for international travel originating from North America, effective immediately. Will United Airlines soon match?
Delta Permanently Eliminates International Change Fees
Last month, American Airlines announced it would eliminate change fees on all international tickets originating in North or South America for travel on American or its joint venture partners (British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines). Basic economy fares were excluded.
Nearly three weeks later, Delta has now matched. Delta promises:
- No change fees on Delta tickets for travel originating from North America to anywhere in the world (including flights operated by joint venture and codeshare partners)
- Basic Economy fares are excluded
Delta Extends Systemwide Change Fee Waiver Through March 31, 2021
In addition to the permanent elimination of international change fees on flights originating in North America, Delta extended its global fee waiver to March 31, 2021. That means any Delta fare you buy between now and then (including basic economy fares) is fully flexible. Should you need to change your travel, all fees will be waived. Note, should there be an increase in fare you will be responsible for that. Should the fare decrease, you will receive the difference in the form of a voucher. Delta is also extending its middle seat blocking policy until March 31st.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian remarked:
“No year has better demonstrated the value of flexibility than this one. Our approach has always been to put people first, which is why we’re extending our current change fee waiver and making lasting changes to our practices, so customers have the trust and confidence they need long after the pandemic ends.”
Will United Airlines Match?
United Airlines, which was the first U.S. legacy carrier to permanently eliminate change fees on domestic tickets, has not matched yet. When American Airlines broadened its change fee waiver to include international travel, a United spokesperson told me:
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.
While United promises an extension of its change fee waiver, it has not committed to matching American and Delta. It does plan to extend its own global fee waiver at some point.
That said, I believe United will fully match. Already, United finds itself at a comparative disadvantage for the fee waivers in place. That’s because American and Delta will provide a future travel credit when your new ticket is cheaper than your old one. United only offers an even exchange, meaning you currently forfeit any savings. I predict by the end of the week, this will change.
This is a golden era for buying flexible tickets. Delta’s move to extend its elimination of change fees to international travel provides a new level of flexibility that takes out a lot of the risk of planning travel in advance. I expect United will soon match.