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How to change or cancel a Delta Air Lines flight

May 01, 2022
13 min read
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Delta Air Lines used to have one of the most restrictive change and cancellation policies. But once the pandemic hit and airlines started to loosen up, Delta followed suit. The Delta cancellation policy and Delta refund policy are now quite favorable and in line with most other major U.S. carriers.

No matter which fare class you purchase, you'll likely be able to cancel your Delta flight. And you'll no longer face incredibly high fees when changing or canceling most fare types.

With the current Delta refund policy, you'll be in a better situation than in the past if your plans change and you need to change or cancel a Delta flight. If that situation does arise, here's everything you need to know.

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Canceling a Delta flight

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Cancel a paid Delta reservation

When purchasing a Delta Air Lines flight, there are three fare options: basic economy, nonrefundable and refundable. The nonrefundable and refundable options will give you the most flexibility, whereas basic economy options are relatively restrictive.

When searching for flights on the Delta Air Lines website, you'll typically see a few options: Basic, Main, Comfort+, First and Delta One (depending on the type of plane).

You can book Main, Comfort+, First and Delta One fares as nonrefundable or refundable. You'll usually see the nonrefundable option by default unless you select the "refundable" checkbox during your search.

But after selecting a nonrefundable flight, a pop-up will usually show you the price difference between nonrefundable and refundable fares.

(Screenshot from delta.com)

You can usually cancel a Delta basic economy ticket, but you'll typically face a fee. Canceling basic economy fares for travel within the U.S. or to Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America costs $99, while other routes cost $199.

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If you cancel a basic economy ticket, you'll receive an eCredit for the remaining value. However, with the ongoing pandemic, you'll want to see if Delta has released any waivers for basic economy flights. Typically, eCredits would expire a year after they are received. But, due to the pandemic, Delta has extended all eCredits through Dec. 31, 2023.

Nonrefundable tickets, on the other hand, have no fees for canceling travel originating in North America. If you need to cancel your ticket, you'll end up with an eCredit for the full amount paid. However, for flights originating outside North America, you'll still be on the hook for a fee of up to $500 based on the Delta cancellation policy. Specifically, for tickets originating in Europe, the cancellation fee is 150 euros (about $158); and for tickets originating in Africa, the Middle East and India, the cancellation fee is $199.

Delta A330 in main cabin economy. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

There are a few caveats to the above rules, though. For travel originating in Mexico, you cannot change your ticket, so, the Delta refund policy won't give you anything if you need to cancel. Additionally, for travel originating in Korea, you'll receive the refund back to your original form of payment (after Delta deducts the respective cancellation fee) instead of an eCredit.

Additionally, for all flights originating in the U.S. — even basic economy flights — you can cancel within 24-hours of making the reservation for a full refund.

If you purchase a refundable ticket and need to cancel, you'll receive the full amount paid back to your original form of payment without any fees. While refundable tickets typically cost more to buy, if you think there's a good chance you'll have to cancel and you don't want to worry about a Delta credit, buying a refundable ticket might be your best option.

To be eligible for a Delta refund, you'll need to cancel your flight before departure. If you are a "no show" (which means not showing up for your flight without changing or canceling prior), you'll lose the entire value of your ticket. Additionally, Delta will cancel any remaining flights on your itinerary.

Related: Delta gets approval for South Africa triangle route, will launch Cape Town service

Cancel a Delta reservation booked with miles

(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

Redeeming Delta miles for your flight will typically give you the most flexibility if you need to cancel. All award flights, except those booked as basic economy awards, can be canceled before the flight's departure with no fee. Once canceled, the miles used for the flight will go back to the account they were booked from — again, with no redeposit fee. The taxes and fees paid will also go back to the original form of payment.

You can cancel basic economy award tickets, but Delta will deduct between 9,900 and 19,900 miles from the cost of your mileage ticket. For flights within the U.S., or to Canada, Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean, Delta will charge you 9,900 miles. For all other flights, you're looking at a 19,900 mileage fee. Delta will deduct this fee from the miles you paid before refunding the remaining miles to your account. The only way around the Delta cancellation policy (and this cancellation fee) is if you cancel your Delta flight within 24 hours of making the reservation.

Additionally, Delta used to have a policy where you couldn't change or cancel a flight within 72-hours of the flight's departure. Fortunately, this is no longer the case and you can cancel your flight within that "last minute" window.

Related: Your complete guide to the Delta SkyMiles program

How to cancel a Delta flight

Delta has made it incredibly easy to cancel a flight online. While you can always call to cancel, there's a good chance you'll wait on hold for a substantial amount of time.

Instead, in your Delta account, go to "My Trips." All of your upcoming flights should appear, or you can find a specific itinerary by entering your first name, last name and confirmation number. Once you are in the itinerary that you want to cancel, click the "Modify" button at the top.

(Screenshot from delta.com)

You'll then have the option to change or cancel your flight. If you're canceling a Delta flight, you'll want to select the "cancel" button. Delta lists the cost of the flight along with the refund details. From there, you can go ahead and confirm the cancellation.

(Screenshot from delta.com)

Although Delta's official policy is to redeposit miles within 72 hours, I've always received my miles back almost immediately.

Related: How to change or cancel a United Airlines flight

Changing a Delta flight

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Change a paid Delta reservation

There might be a situation where you want to change your upcoming Delta Air Lines reservation instead of canceling. While this is possible for some reservations, the structure works similarly to canceling and rebooking.

As I discussed above, there are three different reservation types: basic economy, nonrefundable and refundable.

Basic economy tickets do not allow flight changes. Instead, you'll need to cancel your Delta flight (with the associated fees discussed above) and then book your desired flight.

But, you can change nonrefundable and refundable reservations without going through the hassle of canceling and rebooking. You'll be charged the same fees as canceling a flight for nonrefundable fares ($0 to $500, depending on where the flight originates). But, for fully refundable flights, there's no fee to change your flight.

If the flight price has gone up, you'll need to pay the fare difference in both circumstances. But, if your flight has gone down in price, you'll end up with an eCredit for the difference in the price paid and the new fare cost. According to the Delta refund policy, fully refundable flights will receive the price difference back to their form of payment.

Even if you're not looking to change your flight, if you noticed that your originally scheduled flight has gone down in price, you can go through the change process to receive the difference back. To do this, select your same flight by following the "change flight" process below.

Related: Delta’s inferior ‘new’ A350s are coming sooner than expected — and to a 3rd route

Change a Delta reservation booked with miles

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Changing a Delta reservation booked with miles follows the same policies as paid reservations. As such, basic economy awards can't be changed and instead need to be canceled (with the respective fees) and then rebooked.

You can change to a different flight for no fee on all other tickets. However, you'll need to pay the difference in miles if your flight costs more. Alternatively, if the number of miles required has dropped, you'll receive the difference back into your account. Similar to paid fares, this policy will help you reprice an award ticket if your flight has decreased in miles.

Related: Delta now has ‘dynamic’ seat maps that automatically block rows for families

Change a Delta reservation within 24 hours of travel

In 2021, Delta made customer-friendly improvements for those looking to change their flight last minute — which means within 24 hours of the originally scheduled departure. There are two options for flights within the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: same-day confirmed and same-day standby.

If your flight has gone up in price, utilizing one of these two options will save you more money than simply changing your flight to the more expensive flight. Unfortunately, these options are not available if you have a basic economy ticket.

For same-day confirmed changes, if a seat in your originally purchased fare class (or a downgraded fare class) is available, you can change your ticket to a confirmed seat on a new flight (for the same day of travel with the same the departure and arrival cities). The cost is $75, or complimentary for those with Delta Diamond, Platinum or Gold status. You can confirm a same-day seat through your account on the Delta App.

If the same-day confirmed option isn't available, you can use same-day standby to wait for a seat on an earlier flight on the same day as your original flight. Delta will keep your original reservation intact unless it can assign you a seat on the earlier flight. There is no fee for this option.

Related: What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth?

How to change a Delta flight

Changing a Delta flight can be done online through your Delta account. The start of the process is similar to if you were to cancel your flight.

In your Delta account's "My trip" section, you'll see your upcoming flights. Similar to canceling a flight, you'll want to click the "Modify" button in the specific itinerary you need to change. You'll then want to select the "Start flight change" button.

(Screenshot from delta.com)

From there, you'll want to enter the new airports and departure date.

(Screenshot from delta.com)

Once you select your new flight, the right-side rail will inform you of the difference in miles — if there is a difference — and your total cost or refund. Delta will also tell you if there's a difference in the taxes and fees. You then must click the "Complete change" button on the bottom to confirm your change.

(Screenshot from delta.com)

Change fee waivers for a schedule change

Delta Air Lines goes through schedule changes quite often. If you have a flight that you need to cancel or change, you might be better off waiting to see if there is a schedule change. After all, a schedule change may let you change or cancel your flight easier or with fewer fees.

Even though Delta has done away with most fees, a few ticket types still incur a fee, such as basic economy tickers. But, a schedule change may let you change to another flight with no fare difference. It can also allow you to get a full refund to your original form of payment — if you want to cancel — instead of an eCredit.

Related: What to do when an airline changes your flight

Usually, you'll receive an email when there's a schedule change. Delta will usually notify you if your flight qualifies for a fee waiver. Or, if you see one of the following situations occur, you can call Delta and request a new flight as well:

  • A delay of 120 minutes or more.
  • A change in the routing of a scheduled Delta flight that adds one or more stops to the original itinerary.
  • A change in equipment from Delta Mainline to Delta Connection carrier.
  • Any change that causes a misconnect.
  • If a flight cancels and no comparable or acceptable routing is available within 120 minutes.

If any of the above situations happen, you can opt for a new flight on the same day as the originally scheduled flight. The flight has to be the same origin and destination and the same class of service. Previously, Delta allowed you to change to a flight one day before or after, but this is no longer the case.

The above scenarios may also unlock the possibility of a full refund on a nonrefundable ticket.

Related: How to change or cancel an American Airlines flight

Bottom line

Delta's cancellation policy is now extremely customer friendly if you need to cancel or change an upcoming flight. For flights originating in North America, there's no fee to cancel a flight as long as you don't hold a basic economy ticket.

Thanks to the current Delta refund policy, paid fares will receive an eCredit (unless you booked a fully refundable fare) and those booked on miles will see the full amount of miles deposited back into their account.

Although Delta used to have one of the most stringent policies, it's nice to see that it has come around to making flight cancellations and changes easier for its members. This helps travelers book a flight even if they aren't 100% sure of their upcoming plans — especially when redeeming miles.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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