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Updated 27 January: Delta has now extended its waiver to cover travel that was scheduled to take place through 16 February.
With the US Center for Disease Control announcing that it is introducing a requirement for international travelers to undergo pre-departure COVID-19 testing from 26 January, Delta has announced that it’s bringing in a short-term measure to help some travelers with existing bookings who wish to travel before the new requirement comes into force.
As things stand, Delta is waiving change fees on all international bookings through 30 March 2021 (change fees for most domestic bookings were eliminated last September, and change fees for select international bookings were eliminated last December) but travelers who change the dates of their flights voluntarily are still liable to pay any fare differences that arise from those changes.
Now, however, with the United States introducing a requirement for pre-departure COVID-19 testing from 26 January, Delta says that it will waive any fare differences arising from customers changing their bookings in order to get back to the United States before pre-departure testing becomes mandatory. Unsurprisingly, there are a few key terms and conditions that dictate who can take advantage of this rule.
The offer to waive any fare differences applies to travelers who meet all of the following requirements:
- The international travel bookings must have been made on or before 12 January 2021.
- The booking must be for travel that sees the passenger scheduled to return to the US on or before
9 February16 February 2021.
- Rebooked travel must begin on or before
25 January1 February 2021.
If your travel booking doesn’t meet the first two requirements or if you’re not willing to travel on or before 1 February, Delta will not waive any fare difference that arises if you change your dates of travel.
Clearly this is a very nice move by Delta. The airline didn’t have to do this (at the time of writing, neither American Airlines nor United Airlines appear to have made a similar gesture) and it nice that Delta flyers who feel that their travels would be adversely impacted by having to take a COVID test before returning to the United States have an economical alternative open to them.
I’m assuming that this measure is being aimed at Delta flyers in locations where getting a COVID test may not be straightforward (I have no idea how easy it is to get a COVID test in the Caribbean, for example) as if that’s not the target audience, I have to wonder what sort of person is happy to travel right now but isn’t happy to take a COVID test to get back to the United States?
Still, regardless of who this is aimed at, it’s certainly a positive move by Delta and the airline should be applauded for it. Not everything that Delta has done recently has been positive for flyers, but if you’re a Delta flyer adversely affected by the CDC announcement and can make the most of Delta’s generosity, you’re probably in a very forgiving mood right now.
Delta is offering to waive any fare difference for select passengers with international itineraries and who wish to change their dates of travel to permit them to return to the United States before pre-departure COVID testing becomes mandatory.