Delta and American Drop International Change Fees

The carriers have applied their no-change-fee policies to long-haul flights.

Delta and American Drop International Change Fees

International flights booked on American and Delta now have much more flexibility.

Photo by Shutterstock

After a number of U.S. airlines did away with change fees for domestic flights this summer, Delta Air Lines has followed in the footsteps of American Airlines by taking the policy a step further to include long-haul routes.

Effective December 9, Delta has permanently eliminated the change fees for all international flights out of North America (including flights operated by joint venture and codeshare partners), excluding Basic Economy fares. It has also extended its pandemic-induced fee waiver program, which effectively covers any changes and cancellations for any flights, including Basic Economy tickets, purchased by March 30, 2021. The fee waiver program had been set to expire at the end of 2020.

In August, Delta permanently ditched its $200 change fees for all but Basic Economy tickets purchased for travel within the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Delta is getting rid of other fees and adding more flexibility in several ways as well. The carrier is:

  • Eliminating the $150 redeposit fee typically charged when canceling an award ticket and the $150 reissue fee charged for changing an award ticket (save for Basic Economy)
  • Dropping the requirement to change or cancel an award ticket no more than 72 hours prior to departures or lose the miles
  • Extending travel credits through December 2022 for travel originally scheduled to depart after March 1, 2020, for flights purchased before April 17, 2020

While Delta’s change fees have almost entirely been axed, the airline will still charge a fare difference for a new flight. However, it will also let customers bank a remaining balance if their new flight is less expensive than the canceled one. For example, if a customer paid $1,000 for a flight and then changes that flight to one that costs $700, Delta will give the customer a $300 future flight credit.

Americans’ new flight change policy

On November 19, American updated its flight change policy, which applies to all but Basic Economy tickets.

American this summer did away with its $200 fee for flights in the 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as for flights to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean (with the exception of Basic Economy bookings). Now, there is no longer a $200 change fee for any international flight booked out of airports in North or South America.

A caveat: Similar to Delta, even if the change fee has been dropped, if the new flight is more expensive than the original flight, customers will have to pay the difference. However, if the rebooked flight is less expensive than the original, customers won’t lose that cash.

American has also eliminated its service charge for booking a ticket through its call-in reservation center (the charge had been waived during the pandemic but has now been dropped entirely).

AAdvantage award tickets also no longer face a change fee.

This story was originally published on November 22, 2020, and was updated on December 10, 2020, to include current information.

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Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at Afar where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined Afar in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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