American, Delta, Alaska Follow United’s Lead and Drop Change Fees

Delta plane

Following United Airlines' announcement to eliminate change fees, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have followed suit.

American Airlines is dropping change fees for domestic and short-haul international flights, including to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, for premium cabin fares and most main cabin fares, according to a press release. Basic economy fares, however, would not be included.

Customers who do change their flight will have to pay the fare difference for the new flight, but they will also be issued a voucher for the difference if the new flight is cheaper.

Starting Oct. 1, American customers will also be allowed to fly standby for free for both domestic and international flights.

“In a world that’s constantly changing, American is resolute to our purpose of caring for customers at all points of their travel journey,” American's Chief Revenue Officer, Vasu Raja, said in a statement. “American is offering more flexibility and ease than ever before, should travel plans change. By eliminating change fees, giving customers an opportunity to get where they want to go faster with free same-day standby on earlier flights and providing access to upgrades and seats for all fare types, we’re giving customers the freedom to make their own choices when traveling with American.”

Delta has eliminated change fees for domestic flights, including to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, for tickets in first class, premium select, Delta Comfort+, and main cabin, the company announced.  Similarly, basic economy fares were not included.

“We’ve said before that we need to approach flexibility differently than this industry has in the past, and today’s announcement builds on that promise to ensure we’re offering industry-leading flexibility, space and care to our customers,” Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. “We want our customers to book and travel with peace of mind, knowing that we’ll continue evaluating our policies to maintain the high standard of flexibility they expect.”

The decision to waive change fees comes a day after United did the same for standard economy and premium tickets within the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition, both Delta and American have extended their COVID-19 travel waiver policies. Delta will not charge change fees for newly purchased domestic or international flights in any fare class, including basic economy, through the end of the year. American will waive all change fees for newly purchased travel through Dec. 31 in any fare class, including basic economy as well.

Alaska Airlines also announced that they'll be eliminating change fees as well, except for their Saver fare tickets, the company announced on Tuesday. Change fees with Alaska were originally $125.

"COVID has taught us that flexibility in travel is key," Alaska's Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Harrison said. "As we evolve our approach to travel to include more than 100 safety actions, it's important to give our guests flexibility when they book by eliminating change fees"

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram. 

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