Airline Flight Cancellation Policies During Coronavirus
By Jon Bailey - April 30, 2020
The changes to the airline industry due to Covid-19 are staggering. People are altering their travel plans in record numbers. This is requiring airlines to temporarily adjust their airline flight cancellation policies and change fees.
Currently, all major United States airlines are waiving change fees on flights purchased at specific times. Most airlines are asking that you wait until your departure date is closer (usually within 72 hours) to attempt to make changes or cancellations. This to help their customer service reps be able to assist those have immediate needs.
Well, I tried that recently with some flight plans I needed to cancel on Aeromexico to Merida. That hasn't been a pleasant experience, but more on that later.
Airline Flight Cancellation Policies
Being patient and not canceling too far out is a good idea. If original flight times are changed by more than 60 minutes, you have a better chance of receiving a refund instead of a credit. And if your flight ends up being completely cancelled, the airline must, by law, provide you with a complete refund. Be sure to call the airline directly to speak with a representative for more information. And be patient – there have been long hold times due to the travel changes.
Below is a list of the current policies of the major US airlines for flight ticket cancellation and rebooking. Plus if applicable, their frequent flier policies. Information about airline flight cancellation policies is current as of the publication date of this article. It is also subject to change at any time.
Alaskan Airlines is allowing anyone who purchased a ticket on or before February 26, 2020 to cancel or rebook flights. These are good for flights scheduled through December 31, 2020.
Saver Fare tickets can be canceled without a fee and refunds will be placed in the customer’s Mileage Plan account. If the customer doesn’t have a Mileage Plan account, they’ll receive a credit certificate good for 12 months from the date the original ticket was issued or 30 days after the certificate was issued, whichever is greater. Changes are not allowed on this type of ticket.
Nonrefundable First Class or Main tickets can rebook their flight with no change fees (fare differences may apply). They can also cancel the trip with no fee and have refunds placed in their Mileage Plan account. Customers without a Mileage Plan account will receive a credit same as above.
Any flights scheduled through May 31, 2020 and obtained using Mileage Plan miles can be canceled with no penalty fees. Miles will be placed back into the originating account.
For members of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, current statuses will be extended through December 31, 2021.
To contact Alaska Airlines about changes, visit them online or call (800) 252-7522.
Allegiant Air is allowing a one-time change with no fees. Canceled reservations also have no fee applied. Travelers will receive a credit for future flights up to 24 months from the date of the original reservation.
To contact Allegiant Air, visit them online. If your flight is within 72 hours, call (702) 505-8888.
Tickets for American Airlines that were purchased before May 31, 2020 and scheduled for travel between March 1 and September 30, 2020 can re-book one time with no change fee. (A fare difference may apply).
If you’re not ready to re-book, you can cancel online and receive an eCredit. Then call American before December 31, 2021 when you’re ready to re-book.
Any flights booked with AAdvantage miles before May 31, 2020 for flights through September 30, 2020 will have change fees waived. Miles placed back into the originating account.
Current AAdvantage elite statuses will be extended through January 2022.
To contact American Airlines, visit them online or call (800) 433-7300.
Delta Air Lines
Delta is waiving change fees for tickets purchased before March 1, 2020 on any upcoming travel through September 30, 2020. They are allowing customers to re-book to the same destination with no fare difference if the trip is re-scheduled for departure before September 30, 2020. If the original trip is re-booked for a trip that departs between October 1, 2020 and September 22, 2022, fare difference costs will apply.
Tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020 will have the change fee waived for a year from the date of purchase. Fare difference costs will apply.
Cancellations will be delivered as an eCredit that is valid through September 30, 2022. Flights that are canceled by the customer and purchased with SkyMiles will have the miles deposited back into the original account. In this case, no fees incurred.
If you can’t change or cancel your flight and end up missing the flight, Delta is converting your ticket to an eCredit within 24 hours. This is a policy that was created because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and could be canceled with little notice. So try to cancel or change your reservation if at all possible.
SkyMiles Medallion members receive an automatic year extension to their current status through January 31, 2022.
To contact Delta Air Lines, visit them online. If your flight is within 72 hours, call (800) 221-1212.
Tickets purchased before March 10, 2020 on Frontier Airlines for departure dates through April 30, 2020 can have a one-time change made without fees involved. A fare difference may apply. Changed flights must have travel completed before November 9, 2020.
If the customer chooses to cancel their reservation, a credit will be issued. Credits must be used for a purchase within 90 days of the cancellation.
To contact Frontier Airlines call (801) 401-9000.
Hawaiian Airlines is allowing some changes to tickets. No change fees will be charged for tickets purchased before March 1, 2020 for travel dates scheduled between March 1 and September 30, 2020. These tickets can be rebooked for travel that departs on or before May 31, 2022. A fare difference may apply.
They are also allowing changes to tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020 with no change fees. These changes must be made for travel within 2 years of the original purchase date. Fare differences may apply.
Customers can also cancel their ticket. A credit will be applied to the purchase of a new ticket up to 1 year from the purchase date of the original ticket. Note that on Hawaiian Airlines, canceled tickets cannot be re-booked online. Rebooking must be done through their Reservations department to ensure that change fees aren’t applied.
Members of HawaiianMiles will have elite qualification requirements reduced to qualify for 2021.
To contact Hawaiian Airlines, visit them online. If your flight departs within 72 hours, call (800) 367-5320.
JetBlue Airways is waiving change and cancellation fees for anyone traveling through June 30, 2020. Any re-booked trips must be taken by January 4, 2021 (fare difference may apply).
Flights that customers cancel that were purchased between February 27 and May 31, 2020 will be refunded as JetBlue credits. These will be good for 24 months from the date they were issued.
JetBlue Vacations that were booked between February 27 and May 31, 2020 and are canceled will be refunded as JetBlue Vacations credits. These are also valid for 24 months from the date they were issued.
To contact JetBlue Airways visit them online or call (800) 538-2583.
Southwest Airlines has never charged change fees due to their low pricing model. During this time Southwest is allowing flights scheduled on or before April 30, 2020 to be re-booked up to 60 days after your original flight date. No change in fares will be charged, as long as you’re flying to and from the same locations.
To cancel flights that are scheduled through September 7, 2020, this must be done at least 10 minutes before its scheduled departure time. Credit for a nonrefundable ticket will be issued, and credits will be good through September 7, 2022. Note that these credits are only good through that time if no additional changes are made. If the trip that was purchased with the credit is canceled again, the new credits will only be good for 1 year from the date it was re-scheduled the second time.
To contact Southwest Airlines call (800) 435-9792.
Spirit Airlines is allowing a one-time change with no fees applied. (A fare difference may apply).
Canceled flights receive a credit good for 12 months from the date it was issued.
If you can’t cancel your flight and end up missing it, Spirit says customers can contact them to receive a credit for a later flight. This is a policy that was created because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This policy could be canceled with little notice, so try to cancel or change your reservation if at all possible.
To contact Spirit Airlines, visit them online or call (801) 401-2222.
Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country Airline’s policy has always been to allow customers to change trip reservations for free up to 60 days from the date of departure. They have updated that to allow changes or cancellations for flights scheduled through May 31, 2020 at any time with no fees.
Cancellations will receive a credit to use for future travel. Credits expire 1 year from the original booking date.
Contact Sun Country Airlines online or call (651) 905-2737
United Airlines flights can be rescheduled with no change fees applied (fare difference may apply). Airline flight cancellation policies dictate that flights that are canceled by the customer will receive a travel credit for any flight that is re-booked within 24 months. United customers only have until April 30, 2020 to make changes or cancel any travel booked through the end of the year. After that, customers may be charged change fees.
United is also advising that “depending on the severity of the schedule disruption, you may also be eligible for a refund”. You need to fill out their refund form. The airline will be in contact to advise if you’ll receive a refund or a credit. It can take up to 21 days to hear back from them about the decision.
Flights that are changed or canceled and were purchased with miles have the option to use the miles immediately to reschedule. An alternative option is to have them redeposited into the customer’s account.
Current MileagePlus members with Premier status will have their status extended until January 31, 2021. The requirements to achieve Premier level will be reduced for 2021 by 50%.
To contact United Airlines visit them online. If your flight departure time is within 72 hours, call (800) 864-8331.
My Story About AeroMexico
Due to the crisis, I had to cancel my trip to Merida, Mexico planned for March. At the time of writing this, the airline had no way to cancel a flight online in these circumstances. My only recourse was to call and speak to a airline representative. I tried three times, and was on hold for more than 90 minutes each time. No one ever picked up, and my flight date came and went. I still don't have resolution, so I will most likely call my credit card company and dispute the charge. This airline needs to adjust its airline flight cancellation policies.
So not all airlines are the same, and AeroMexico is needing to work on their customer service. Badly.