Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies: A complete list of major carriers

Oct 15, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post, first published in March, is regularly updated with new information.  


While there have been some signs that travelers are once again willing to take to the skies, many continue to be impacted by pandemic-related service adjustments, with airlines trimming their schedules and reducing headcount, resulting in ongoing flight cancellations around the globe.

Early during the pandemic, customers had to fight hard for refunds — in many cases, airlines insisted on offering travel credits, instead, forcing many would-be flyers to seek restitution through the Department of Transportation. A handful of carriers have since improved their refund policies, but some travelers are struggling to make sense of ongoing changes, and to claim a refund when it’s due.

Below, I’ll be digging into the major airlines and their current policies, to give you an idea of what you’re entitled to. I recommend taking a look at the following posts, too:

As always, it could be a great time to use miles to book future trips — several airlines have updated their frequent flyer programs to allow members to cancel and deposit awards for free, giving you far more flexibility. For a closer look at award ticket policies and redeposit fees, check out our full guide here.

Airline Change/Cancellation Policies

In This Post

US AIRLINES

Allegiant

New and existing bookings: Allegiant is allowing customers a one-time change to their travel plans without incurring change or cancellation fees, valid for one year from the original purchase date. A difference in fare may apply. If Allegiant cancels your flight, you may be entitled to a full refund to your original form of payment. Customers who choose to cancel their reservation can receive a credit in the form of a voucher, valid for two years from the date of the original booking.

For more information: See the full Allegiant policy here.

Alaska

Trips booked after Feb. 26 until Dec. 31: Customers with plans to travel through Nov. 30, 2021, may cancel or change their itineraries for no fee, as long as the new travel takes within a year of the original travel date. A difference in fare will apply if passengers move to a higher-cost flight. “Saver” fares do not qualify for itinerary changes, but customers can receive a voucher for the value of the ticket. If the airline cancels the flight or the flight time is impacted by more than one hour, customers can request a full refund to their original form of payment.

Trips booked on or before Feb. 26: Customers who booked tickets to travel between March 9 and Dec. 31, 2020, may cancel or rebook their itineraries for no fee, as long as the new travel occurs within one year of the original travel date. A difference in fare may apply. “Saver” fares do not qualify for itinerary changes, but customers can receive a voucher for the value of the ticket. If the airline cancels the flight or the flight time is impacted by more than one hour, customers can request a full refund to their original form of payment.

Award tickets: Customers who cancel their award tickets will have their miles redeposited for no fee, and the airline will refund the charges for taxes and fees as well. 

For more information: See the full Alaska policy here.

Related: You’re entitled to a refund on your canceled flight, even if the airline says you aren’t

American

New and existing bookings: American will waive change fees for all new travel booked by Dec. 31, 2020, including basic economy and award tickets. Customers can change their origin and destination cities, but a difference in fare may apply. If the airline cancels the flight, customers can request a full refund to their original form of payment.

Tickets previously booked by Sept. 30 may be used to cover travel through Dec. 31, 2021. If you have a ticket that is expiring between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, the value of your unused ticket can be used for travel through Dec. 31, 2021.

Award tickets: In addition to the policies outlined above, all AAdvantage members can change or redeposit award tickets without penalty at least 60 days in advance of departure.

For more information: See the full American policy here.

Delta

New bookings: Any tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2020, can be canceled or changed for up to a year from the date of purchase without any fees. Customers will be issued a travel credit for any voluntarily canceled trips. A difference in fare may apply if you move to a higher-cost flight.

Existing bookings: Customers with tickets issued on or before April 17 for travel through March 31, 2021 and all other tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2020 may cancel or rebook their itineraries for no fee. Those who are not sure when they wish to travel will be able to rebook for up to two years or receive a voucher for the value of their ticket, which will remain valid through Dec. 31, 2022. If the airline cancels the flight, you are entitled to a refund to your original form of payment.

Award tickets: Delta is waiving redeposit fees for any award flights that qualify under the current waivers. Additionally, Delta is no longer charging a redeposit or change fee for all SkyMiles members traveling on domestic awards, excluding basic economy bookings.

For more information: See the full Delta policy here.

Frontier

New bookings: Frontier is not offering any special flexibility for most trips booked after April 15. However, the airline’s general policy allows for free itinerary changes when requested 60 days or more prior to departure. A $79 change fee will be applied 59-14 days before departure, and will go up to $119 for changes 13 days before departure or less, including same-day modifications.

Existing bookings (booked between March 10 and April 15): Customers may cancel or rebook their itineraries without a fee. The new, changed itinerary must be completed by Sept. 12, 2021. Customers who cancel their flights will receive a voucher for the value of their ticket that is valid for 90 days from the day they cancel. If the airline cancels the flight, customers can request a full refund to their original form of payment.

Existing bookings (booked between July 2 and July 31): Customers may make one change without a fee if the change is made 7 or more days prior to departure. New travel must be completed by Sept. 12, 2021. A fare difference may apply, but no residual will be issued for lower-cost flights. Alternatively, passengers may cancel flights and receive a credit, which must be redeemed within 90 days of issue for travel through the end of the airline’s current schedule.

Award tickets: Frontier is allowing customers to redeposit their miles without a fee when canceling travel at least 24 hours prior to departure.

For more information: See the full Frontier policy here.

Hawaiian

New and existing bookings: Hawaiian is not applying any change fees to tickets booked through Dec. 31, 2020, and changes can be made within two years of the original purchase date. The carrier has discontinued change fees for all destinations on a permanent basis as well. Customers will be responsible for paying any additional fare difference, if it applies. If the airline cancels the flight, customers can request a full refund to their original form of payment.

Existing bookings (booked before March 1 with original travel dates until Feb. 28, 2021): Customers may change or cancel their itineraries for no fee. The new, changed itinerary must begin on or before May 31, 2022. Those who choose to cancel will be issued a voucher valid for up to one year from the original ticket purchase date. If the airline cancels the flight, customers can request a full refund to their original form of payment.

Award tickets: Hawaiian is waiving the mile redeposit fee on canceled award flights ticketed through Dec. 31, 2020. Flights booked after that date will not be subjected to change fees, though a redeposit fee of $30 for interisland and $150 for all other travel will apply for all canceled awards.

For more information: See the full Hawaiian policy here.

JetBlue

New and existing bookings: Customers can change or cancel tickets booked through Feb. 28, 2021, for no fee, though only one change will be permitted for existing tickets changed after that date. If passengers rebook flights, they may have to pay the difference in cost between the original ticket and the new fare. If customers cancel their travel or move to a lower-cost flight, JetBlue will issue a credit valid for 12 months.

Award tickets: JetBlue is waiving the redeposit fee for TrueBlue points on award tickets covered by its current waivers.

For more information: See the full JetBlue policy here.

Southwest

Southwest has a long-standing policy of not charging change or cancellation fees, but the carrier has adjusted its policies slightly in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

New and existing bookings: Customers can choose to cancel their booking and receive a credit valid for 12 months from the original purchase date. If Southwest cancels your flight, you’ll be eligible for a refund to your original form of payment.

Existing credits: Under its previous policy, unused credits were extended with a new expiration date of Sept. 7, 2022. While unused credits will remain valid until that date, once credits are redeemed, the airline’s current policy will apply, in which case they’ll expire 12 months after the flight booking date. Alternatively, through Dec. 15, 2020, customers may choose to convert these extended credits into Rapid Rewards points, which will not expire. See this post for more details.

Award tickets: Southwest does not charge a redeposit fee for points on canceled award itineraries.

For more information: See the full Southwest policy here.

Related: You’re entitled to a refund on your canceled flight, even if the airline says you aren’t

Spirit

New and existing bookings: Spirit is waiving change and cancellation fees for travel booked by Oct. 31, 2020. Customers who choose to cancel a flight voluntarily will be issued a travel credit, valid for 12 months from the date it’s issued. Passengers who choose to move to a more expensive flight may have to pay a difference in fare. If Spirit cancels your flight, you may request a refund to your original form of payment.

Award tickets: Spirit is waiving redeposit fees on canceled award itineraries. 

For more information: See the full Spirit policy here.

United

New and existing bookings: Any tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2020 can be canceled or changed without a fee, though a difference in fare may apply. Passengers cannot get a cash refund, and will not be issued a credit or refund if the new itinerary costs less than the original booking. Credits on cancellations are valid for 12 months from the original ticket date. Change fees will also be permanently waived for all future travel within the United States, and for flights to or from Mexico and the Caribbean, with the exception of basic economy tickets, which cannot be changed if purchased on or after Jan. 1, 2021. If the airline cancels the flight, and you can’t be rebooked to arrive within two hours of your original arrival time, you can request a full refund to your original form of payment.

Existing bookings (booked on or before March 2): Customers who booked tickets for travel through Dec. 31, 2020 can cancel or change their itinerary for no fee, as long as the new travel commences within 24 months of the original ticket’s issue date. Customers who choose to cancel will be issued a 24-month credit for future travel. If the airline cancels the flight, and you can’t be rebooked to arrive within two hours of your original arrival time, you can request a full refund to your original form of payment.

Award tickets: United is no longer charging change or redeposit fees for canceled award flights for travel to or from the United States, Mexico or the Caribbean.

For more information: See the full United policy here. 

Related: You’re entitled to a refund on your canceled flight, even if the airline says you aren’t

CANADIAN AIRLINES

Air Canada

New and existing bookings: Flights booked through Dec. 31, 2020, for travel through Dec. 31, 2021, can be canceled or changed one time without any fee up to two hours before departure. New travel must be completed by Dec. 31, 2022. Passengers may also elect to receive Aeroplan Miles with an additional 65% bonus miles when canceling. Passengers cannot get a cash refund. A difference in fare may apply.

Award tickets: Through Dec. 31, 2020, Air Canada is waiving the redeposit fee for canceled award flights for any date on the carrier or on partner airlines booked via Aeroplan.

For more information: See the full Air Canada policy here.

WestJet

New and existing bookings: All bookings made on or before Dec. 31, 2020, can be canceled or changed one time without a change fee more than 24 hours before departure. A difference in fare may apply for higher-cost flights, and a future travel credit will be issued if a customer chooses to move to a lower-cost flight. Passengers who choose to cancel will receive a travel credit valid for 24 months from the date of issue.

Related: You’re entitled to a refund on your canceled flight, even if the airline says you aren’t

Award tickets: The airline’s current policies apply to flights purchased using WestJet Dollars. 

For more information: Check out WestJet’s full policies here.

Editor’s note: This post is regularly updated with new information. It originally was published on March 20, 2020.

Additional reporting by Brian Kim, Benji Stawski, Katherine Fan and Zach Wichter.

Featured image by Getty Images.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.