Delta Eliminates Change Fees On Most Domestic Award Bookings

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Delta Platinum and Medallion members have long been able to change award bookings without incurring a penalty but now, with immediate effect, everyone else can feel a little bit more like an elite flyer with Delta after the airline announced that change fees on domestic award bookings are now (mostly) a thing of the past.

Delta Offers More Flexibility On Award Travel

The following changes relate to award bookings for travel within the United States (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands):

  • The $150 redeposit fee to cancel an award ticket and the $150 reissue fee to change an award ticket have both been eliminated for all SkyMiles Members booking awards in all but the Basic Economy fare buckets.
  • Changes and cancelations made within 72 hours of departure will no longer result in the loss of miles on domestic award tickets booked into all but the Basic Economy fare buckets.

Delta’s cheapest awards book into Basic Economy fare buckets so it’s important to note that change fees have not been eliminated entirely for domestic award bookings.


Ok, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Clearly this is good news for most flyers and it’s good to see Delta taking another positive step that will benefit a lot of its customers (although I suspect that Platinum and Diamond Medallion members may see this as a devaluation of their status).

However, while this move is certainly very welcome, it doesn’t get us away from the fact that there are still a number of areas (relating to awards and change fees) in which it would be nice to see Delta improve:

  1. No other US airline characterizes its cheapest award fares as “Basic Economy” so considering how harsh the rules around Basic Economy bookings can be, it would be nice to see Delta move away from this type of characterization and get in line with its competitors.
  2. American Airlines and United have both completely eliminated change fees for awards booked for travel within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands so not only do American and United flyers not have their cheapest awards categorized as “Basic Economy”, but they’ve also seen change and redeposit fees eliminated on considerably more routes than Delta flyers. Delta needs to address this.
  3. American Airlines has eliminated change and redeposit fees for international awards as long as any changes are made 60+ days ahead of travel. Delta still charges $150 for any changes made 72+ hours ahead of travel (these charges are waived for Platinum and Diamond elites). This puts Delta more in line with United than it does with American and generally speaking, being in line with United is not usually a positive thing.

Yes, of course there are ways in which the rules that Delta sets down are better than those set down by the other two major US airlines, but that doesn’t mean that Delta shouldn’t look to lead in all areas and take on board any positive policies that its competitors have unveiled. There’s nothing wrong with aiming to be the most customer-friendly airline.

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Bottom Line

Delta has announced that it has eliminated change and redeposit fees for most award bookings for travel within the United States (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands)…but the airline needs to do more.

One of the very few good things that may emerge from the current travel crisis is that we see a chastened airline industry that finally understands that it’s not ok to nickel and dime us, and an industry that finally understands that it cannot take us for granted. What we (the traveling public) now need to do is to make sure that we’re seen to be rewarding the airlines that take the most positive steps to eliminate needless charges and that in turn may be all the incentive the other airlines (like Delta) need to fall into line.

Let’s not forget that airlines are exploring all possible avenues right now in a bid to encourage people to choose them over the competition. We, the flyers, are in an incredibly powerful position right now – let’s not waste it.


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