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We’re used to thinking that where Delta goes the other major US airlines follow, but Delta has been playing catchup in a number of areas in recent months and the news out of Delta HQ this morning is another such example.
Back in November, American Airlines announced that it was eliminating change fees on most international bookings that originate in the United States and now, three weeks later, Delta has followed suit with a similar announcement of its own.
Delta Extends Flexible Booking Policy For All Fares
Changes to its permanent policies aside, the first important part of Delta’s announcement this morning covers the flexible booking policy that the airline has had in place for most of 2020. The current waiver was set to expire on 31 December but Delta has now confirmed that its existing waiver of no change fees for all tickets purchased for travel on all routes that it operates (regardless of where travel originates) has been extended to cover bookings made through 31 March 2021.
As a reminder, this policy states the following:
If your travel is eligible for a waiver, you can move your travel dates and even select a new destination. Your unused ticket will be applied toward your new flight, and in some instances, a fare difference will apply. If the new fare is lower, you will receive an eCredit for the difference. If the new fare is higher, the difference will be collected.
Essentially, travelers with bookings made before 31 March 2021 can choose to change their trips to dates for up to a year from the date the fare was purchased without incurring a change fee.
No More Change Fees On Select International Bookings
In addition to the temporary waiver extension discussed above, Delta has confirmed that, with immediate effect, it has permanently eliminated change fees for all non-Basic Economy international bookings originating from North America.
To put it simply: There are no longer any change fees due on Delta tickets for travel originating from North America to anywhere in the world (including flights operated by joint venture and codeshare partners) as long as a customer has not made a Basic Economy booking.
This news follows Delta’s September announcements that it has removed change fees on most domestic award bookings and on most regular bookings for travel within the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, on all fares except Basic Economy fares.
As Delta’s permanent elimination of change fees announcement is essentially the same announcement as the one American Airlines made three weeks ago, my thoughts are pretty much the same.
For flyers based in North America this is clearly very good news, but any joy at seeing yet another annoying airline fee eliminated is tempered by the fact that the fee isn’t being eliminated for fares that originate in Europe, Asia, or Oceania. This may have something to do with the fact that the airline doesn’t want to be out of step with the partners that it has in those regions (e.g. Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM, Korean Air, etc…) but as all these partners also offer their fares out of North America, I’m not sure that’s a particularly strong argument to make.
One of the big selling points of airline Joint Ventures has long been that their existence should mean that it doesn’t make any difference to the paying customer which of the airlines in the JV they book with as the fare offered is essentially the same. Now, however, with the likes of Delta and American removing change fees for most bookings originating in North America, that premise no longer seems to work. Will we now see other Sky Team and oneworld airlines eliminating change fees for travel originating in North America? I have no idea but it will be interesting to see if things change.
Delta has just indicated that it has extended its flexible booking policy for all fares through 31 March 2021. In addition, the airline has also confirmed that it has followed in American Airlines’ footsteps and has permanently scrapped change fees on most international bookings originating in North America.
How do you feel about this news?