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Airlines eliminating international change fees

American, Alaska, United and Delta will eliminate change fees on international flights for all fares except the lowest basic economy. This had been done since August on domestic flights but it is being expanded to include international flights.

They claim it's permanent but let's see what happens when business returns to normal.

Posted by
6525 posts

That helps us make a decision about when we might travel abroad again. I made a ten day cancelable reservation in Italy for mid September 2021 a few months ago to have a trip look forward to.

Posted by
2097 posts

European airlines have done that for a while now. I got quite a lot of advertising from SAS a month or so ago that they removed all change fees for all international flights for all fares, including basic economy. Lufthansa have some similar rules and I presume most other airlines also have them.

Posted by
85 posts

Under normal circumstances, this might save money. Want to stay an extra day or two? Rebook without paying a change fee of several hundred dollars (typical for an international flight). On the scale of a few days (except right before a holiday), the fare is not likely to rise much.

Right now, people are buying tickets at depressed prices but facing the risk of having to postpone travel for many months. By the time normal travel becomes possible, fares will rise due to rising demand. The fare increases that passengers will have to pay to use their tickets might well outweigh the former change fee. Whether the airlines say "change fee" or "fare increase", the amount is entirely at their discretion.

For a past post I looked up one country's regulation on hotel vouchers during the pandemic. The beauty of that regulation was that it forbade the provider from charging a higher price when the voucher was redeemed.

A convincing offer from the airlines would be: no change fee and no fare difference, i.e., the money you pay today covers a flight from Point A to Point B, whenever it becomes possible for you to make the trip.

Posted by
759 posts

cognac gets it! The airlines are looking for cash NOW. And they lock you in. Sure, change your flight to a later one, and be assured it will be at a much higher price that will greatly exceed any change fees. Consider your “buy now” to be a deposit against your future ticket, price unknown. A non-refundable deposit.

Will they lock in fares? Never. To do so would be grounds for the BOD to fire the CEO. Otherwise folks would be out shopping for crazy low fares, buying multiple tickets, to get a ticket from A to B “locked in” while having no intention of ever using the newly booked ticket. That would be financial suicide for the airlines.

While some European countries did lock in hotel rates based upon the original reservation rate this came as part of the bargain. The hotel was granted the right to refuse a refund request and force a voucher upon guests who reserved fully refundable rooms that they shockingly learned were no longer refundable.

Sorry folks- there is no free lunch.

Posted by
9652 posts

Airlines are hurting for cash. They are hoping this incentive will get them cash now. Book now at a low rate for sometime next year but they geet your cash now.

Posted by
7535 posts

Southwest does not lock in the fare price. When you change flights, and the new fare is higher, you pay the difference. Otherwise, we’d all be carrying future credit on SW to beat future higher prices.

Posted by
1767 posts

Actually I find Southwest policy to be among the least helpful as a business traveler. If I finish early I can’t just standby on an earlier flying unless I pay a lot of money whereas on Delta or American I could stand by and go home for much less money. No change fees but $200 to get on a plane an hour earlier versus free 50 bucks on another airline? I’m not impressed with no change fees

Posted by
7205 posts

No Change fee doesn't mean much because the actual hit you'll incur is that the fare difference between the one you booked and the one you want to move to. Too many people think "No Change Fee" means they can book a different flight for free...not so!

Posted by
6699 posts

No Change fee doesn't mean much because the actual hit you'll incur is
that the fare difference between the one you booked and the one you
want to move to.

That's true, but aren't 2 hits still greater than 1? If you had to change your itinerary no matter what (or simply wanted more flexibility to change your mind), removing a rather expensive penalty for doing so is an improvement over the status quo.

Posted by
1767 posts

One of the real advantages of "no change fee" is if your fare drops.

Before it had to drop a LOT for you to see a benefit.

I had a flight to Mexico last month. Fare dropped 3 times. None of them were big drops, but I now have $140 to use on another trip! (They don't give refunds just e-credits, but they are good until sometime in 2022)