An airline perk that grew out of the coronavirus pandemic is about to take wing and fly away.
For much of the past year, airlines have canceled the penalty fees they usually charge when you try to reschedule your travel dates. But with the pandemic on the wane and people traveling again, airlines soon will reinstate the change fee, Consumers’ Checkbook reports.
The website says that until March 31, new bookings on airlines such as Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian and United still will offer the benefit of no change fee if you reschedule travel dates.
But then, a big change is coming. Scott Keyes, founder and chief flight expert at Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Consumers’ Checkbook:
“Starting next month, it goes back to the old system where you actually cannot change your dates for any flight whatsoever once you book a basic economy flight; your dates are locked.”
That means change fees on basic economy flights — which are around $200 for domestic flights on most U.S. airlines — likely will be back.
Keyes notes there is a small chance airlines may wait until later to reinstate the change fees. But he doubts that will happen, because airline bookings have increased every week this year.
Now that air travel is desirable again, airlines want to cash in on the change fees that net them huge amounts of revenue. Consumers’ Checkbook notes that the airline industry raked in an estimated $2.8 billion in change fees in 2019.
Waived change fees are not the only pandemic-related airline courtesy that may disappear soon.
During the pandemic, airlines that canceled flights gave travel vouchers to those who had purchased tickets. But many of those vouchers will expire soon. For more, check out “Why Your Airline Voucher May Expire Soon.”