Help Me Understand Delta’s Change Fee Waiver – Something Seems Odd

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I’m in the process of putting together a post showing exactly what each of the 3 US legacy carriers is offering with their “Change Fee Waivers” that have recently been announced, but there’s one particular aspect of Delta’s waiver that I’m struggling to understand because, to me, it looks more than a little odd…but I may be missing something.

Note: I’m ignoring the recent addendum that Delta included for bookings made prior to 1 March because, for the purposes of my question, it makes no difference.

According to this Delta webpage, this is what Delta’s limited-time change fee waiver offers:

Covered Bookings:

  • All International Tickets (not including travel within the U.S. 50) issued between March 1, 2020 – March 31, 2020

Covered Travel Dates:

  • March 1, 2020 – February 25, 2021

Rebooking Deadline:

  • Rebooked tickets must be issued on/before February 28, 2021

Rebooked Travel Deadline:

  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than February 28, 2021

All of that makes sense to me and is almost word for word what you’ll find on the Delta webpage that I’ve linked to.

Delta goes on to outline the various options to customers:

  1. Remain on the current flight
  2. Change to a different flight
  3. Cancel the trip and use the full value of the trip towards a future flight

None of those three options are odd but, under the “change to a different flight” option, delta also says this:

Note, if changes are made to the originally ticketed cities or rescheduled travel occurs beyond the guidelines, the change fee will be waived, however, a difference in fare may apply.*

And when you scroll down the page to see what the asterisk refers to, this is the wording that appears:

*When rescheduled travel occurs beyond February 28, 2021, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue. If travel is not able to be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance. Applicable change fee and fare difference will apply for new travel dates. Final travel 

The way that both paragraphs read to me suggests that it’s only if changes are made to the routing that was originally booked or if travel occurs beyond 28 February 2021 that a fare difference will be considered. If the routing isn’t changed and travel takes place before 28 February there will be no fare difference to pay.

That cannot possibly be what Delta means to say (it’s far too generous) but isn’t that what those two paragraphs suggest?

What am I missing? Can someone shed some light on this or is Delta actually being so incredibly generous that I could book the cheapest fare available for travel between LA and New York (for example) and then, at a later date, change it for travel on dates where fares are sky-high for no penalty at all?

I’m 99.9% sure I’m misunderstanding something here so any clarification will be gratefully received…just don’t make me feel too dumb 🙂



  1. I tested this with a $60 dummy booking and it did in fact ask for the difference in fare when I tried to change to a more expensive day. I thought the same thing as you.

    • Thanks for the datapoint. If I’m not the only person this occurred to it would suggest that Delta needs to reconsider its wording – it’s ambiguous at best and could easily be misconstrued by someone who doesn’t know what the usual rules are like.

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