Delta Follows United’s Lead & Eliminates Domestic Change Fees


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United Airlines caught a lot of people off guard when it announced that it would be eliminating most change fees for domestic itineraries with immediate effect and, not all that surprisingly, Delta has followed suit and confirmed that it has also eliminated most domestic change fees with immediate effect.

Delta’s Change Fee Announcement

Here are the key elements to Delta’s announcement:

  • The elimination of change fees is effective immediately
  • Change fees have been eliminated for travel within the United States as well as on routes to/from Puerto Rico and to/from the US Virgin Islands.
  • Change fees have been eliminated for First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+, and Main Cabin bookings.
  • Basic Economy bookings are not exempt from change fees.

Essentially that’s exactly what United Airlines had already announced.

In a press release that is very focused on highlighting the positive moves the airline has already made this year, Delta has reaffirmed that it plans to block the middle seats on its aircraft through 6 January 2021 and it has confirmed that it has now extended its waiver on change fees for newly purchased flights, including international flights and Basic Economy fares, through the end of the year and will extend its expiration on travel credits through December 2022 for tickets booked before April 17, 2020.

Quick Thoughts

There’s not much substance to what Delta has announced so far so although Delta is making sure that people remember that it used its December investor day to state its intent to overhaul its change fee structure, it certainly looks as if United Airlines beat it to the punch and that Delta was forced to rush out an announcement of its own.

While Delta has essentially matched United’s policy for cash/revenue bookings, the airline hasn’t said whether it will follow United in eliminating change fees for domestic SkyMiles bookings. It also hasn’t said if, like United, it plans to eliminate standby fees in the near future. I expect that in both cases Delta will have no alternative but to copy what United has announced but it would be good to hear the airline come out and confirm that this will be the case.

One thing I don’t expect to see Delta copying is United’s somewhat bold claim that the removal of change fees is permanent as Delta’s management isn’t one to paint itself into a corner for no good reason. Delta may have been caught a little off guard with United’s unexpected announcement but it wasn’t caught out enough to induce it to make any rash promises with regards to its fee structure going forward. This may be a long-term move by Delta but something tells me that we haven’t seen the last of change fees on domestic bookings – they’ll probably be back when the airlines are back on an even keel and are no longer worrying about where they’re next passenger will be coming from.

Still, putting that bit of pessimism to one side, what Delta has announced is clearly very good news for consumers and should be applauded. It will be interesting to see if the next few days see Delta offer any further clarification around its plans for standby fees and change fees on award bookings – if there are any updates I’ll be sure to post them here.

Bottom Line

With immediate effect, Delta will no longer charge change fees on First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+, and Main Cabin bookings for travel within the United States as well as for travel to/from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Featured image courtesy of Stuart Seeger

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