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

Jul 10, 2021

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


While many travelers are once again willing to take to the skies, countless flyers continue to be impacted by pandemic-related service adjustments. Airlines, airports and even the TSA are fighting to hire new workers to handle the crush, plus balance a wave of flight cancellations and delays.

Related: Long lines, reduced amenities, higher prices: What staffing shortages mean for your summer vacation

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

U.S. AIRLINES

Allegiant

New and existing bookings: As of May 1, 2021, Allegiant’s change and cancel fees have been temporarily reduced to $25 per person, per flight segment. A flight segment is one takeoff and one landing. Most changes and cancellations can now be made directly via visiting Manage Travel

For more information: See the full Allegiant policy here.

Alaska

Trips booked between Feb. 27, 2020, and April 30, 2021: Customers with plans to travel through Feb. 28, 2022, may cancel or change their itineraries for no fee, as long as the new travel takes place within a year of the original travel date. A difference in fare will apply if passengers move to a higher-cost flight. If you purchase a Saver fare between Feb. 27, 2020, and April 30, 2021, you may either cancel your trip without a fee and deposit the funds into your My Account wallet or receive a credit for future travel. If you bought a nonrefundable first class, main or award ticket between Feb. 27, 2020, and April 30, 2021, you can either change your trip without a fee with a fare difference that may apply to your new itinerary or cancel your trip without a fee and deposit the funds into your My Account wallet or receive a credit for future travel. If you purchased your tickets through a third party, such as Expedia, another travel agency, or another airline, contact them directly for assistance.

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: Travelers will no longer pay change fees for all domestic, short-haul international and select long-haul international flying on Premium Cabin, Premium Economy and Main Cabin fares. Basic Economy fares bought on or after April 1, 2021, are non-refundable and non-changeable. But you can now buy extras such as upgrades, seats, priority boarding and same-day flight changes. AAdvantage elite members may apply their travel benefits on all tickets, including on Basic Economy fares.

Tickets that were booked by Sept. 30 may be used to cover travel through Dec. 31, 2021. If you have a ticket that expires between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, the value of your unused ticket can be used for travel through March 31, 2022. Travelers can standby for free on earlier domestic flights, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to the same destination on the same day.

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 March 30, 2021, can be canceled or changed without any fees, for new travel completed within one year of the original ticket issue date. A difference in fare may apply if you move to a higher-cost flight. Basic Economy tickets purchased after April 30, 2021, are final and are not changeable or refundable after the expiration of the 24-Hour Risk-Free Cancellation period unless Delta has already made a significant change that has impacted your upcoming flight. For all Delta tickets where travel begins outside of North America, the airline continues to offer waived change fees except for Basic Economy fares, which are not changeable.

Existing bookings: Customers with tickets issued before April 17, 2020, for travel through March 31, 2021, may cancel or rebook their itineraries for no fee, for new travel completed by Dec. 31, 2022. Tickets issued between April 17, 2020, and March 31, 2021, can be changed without penalty, but will only be valid for one year from the original ticket issue date. If the airline cancels the flight, you are entitled to a refund to your original form of payment. Tickets not changed or canceled prior to departure will have no remaining value. However, you won’t be charged a fee for canceling your ticket and your ticket will become an eCredit that you can use at any time before your ticket expires.

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: The airline’s general policy allows for free itinerary changes when requested 60 days or more prior to departure. A $39 change fee will be applied between 59 and seven days before departure and will go up to $59 for changes six days before departure or less, including same-day modifications.

Existing bookings (booked between March 10 and April 15, 2020): 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, 2020): Customers may make one change without a fee if the change is made seven 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.

Existing bookings (booked between Aug. 31 and Sept. 31, 2020): Customers may make one change without a fee if the change is made seven or more days prior to departure. 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 customers can cancel prior to departure and redeposit their miles with a $75 fee.

For more information: See the full Frontier policy here.

Hawaiian

New and existing bookings: The carrier has discontinued change fees for all destinations permanently. 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, 2020, 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 no longer charging change or redeposit fees for canceled award flights.

For more information: See the full Hawaiian policy here.

JetBlue

New bookings: Customers can change or cancel tickets booked through March 31, 2021, for no fee, although 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.

Existing bookingsJetBlue has eliminated change fees for most tickets on an ongoing basis, excluding Blue Basic fares. All fares booked by June 7, 2021, will still enjoy no change or cancel fees. For fares booked June 8, 2021, or later:

  • No change or cancellation fees for Blue, Blue Plus and Mint fares on all routes. Difference in fare applies. Same-day switches can be made for $75 (or free for Mosaic members), without paying a fare difference.
  • No change or cancellation fees (difference in fare applies), and free same-day switches, for Blue Extra fares.
  • Blue Basic fares can be changed or canceled for a fee, based on route.

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 and 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.

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

For more information: See the full Southwest policy here.

Spirit

New and existing bookings: Spirit is waiving change and cancellation fees for travel booked by March 31, 2021. Customers who choose to cancel a flight voluntarily will be issued a travel credit. Credits issued after May 31, 2020, will expire on Sept. 30, 2021, and all rebooked travel must be completed by that date. 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 March 31, 2021, 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 generally valid for 12 months from the original ticket date, though all tickets originally purchased between May 1, 2019, and March 31, 2021, will be valid through March 31, 2022, or 12 months after the date of the first flight flown on an itinerary, whichever is sooner. Change fees will also be permanently waived for most domestic and international flights, with the exception of Basic Economy tickets, which cannot be changed if purchased on or after April 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 between March 3 and March 31, 2020): Customers 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 booked in North America when changes are made at least 31 days before departure. A $125 fee may apply when changes and cancellations are requested within 30 days of a flight.

For more information: See the full United policy here. 

CANADIAN AIRLINES

Air Canada

Existing bookings: Flights booked through April 30, 2021, for travel through April 30, 2022, can be canceled or changed one time without any fee up to two hours before departure. New travel must be completed within 24 months from the date of cancellation. A difference in fare may apply. Passengers may also elect to receive Aeroplan Miles with an additional 65% bonus miles when canceling, and will soon have the option of receiving an Air Canada Travel Voucher that is fully transferable and does not expire.

New bookings: Until July 31, 2021, if you want to change your flight, the airline will waive the change fee. After July 31, 2021, you can make one change at no extra charge. If your new fare has a higher price, you only need to pay the difference from your original fare. If you need to cancel a booking, the full value can be transferred to an Air Canada Travel Voucher, which never expires and is fully transferrable, or converted into Aeroplan points with a 65% bonus.

Award tickets: Aeroplan flight rewards booked before July 31, 2021, can be changed or canceled free of charge, up to two hours before your flight. 

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

WestJet

New and existing bookings: All flights booked between March 3, 2020, and July 31, 2021, will be allowed a $0 one-time fee waiver for changes or cancellations. Change or cancellation must be requested more than 24 hours from departure. The value of canceled flights will be returned as a Travel Bank credit, valid for 24 months from the date your flight was canceled. If you change your flight, the difference in fare applies. If the new fare is less, the difference will be returned as a Travel Bank credit. For changes or cancellations within 24 hours of travel, standard change and cancel fee rules apply.

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

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

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

Featured image by Getty Images.
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