Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Ship 638 Boeing 757
Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines Eliminates Change Fees Permanently — But…

Change fees have been eliminated on a permanent basis on all standard economy class tickets and premium class tickets for travel within the United States — including Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands but not including other territories of the United States — on all flights operated by Delta Air Lines effective as of today, Monday, August 31, 2020; and no limit exists as to how many times customers adjust their flights…

Delta Air Lines Eliminates Change Fees Permanently — But…

SunTrust Park Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…but Delta Air Lines strangely threw a curve ball by not eliminating fees for standing by for a different flight on the same day of travel or confirming a change in flight on the same day of travel.

Also, the exception to the elimination of change fees is that passengers who purchase a Basic Economy ticket will still be required to pay a change fee of $200.00 for each change which is implemented.

Additionally, the waiver for new tickets issued through Thursday, December 31, 2020 is being extended by Delta Air Lines to permit unlimited changes to tickets with no fee, which applies to all ticket types — including Basic Economy fares — and it is valid for both domestic and international travel.

Furthermore, the expiration on travel credits for tickets which were booked before Friday, April 17, 2020 will be extended through December of 2022.

Delta Air Lines Sky Club B Concourse opening
Edward Bastian. Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

“We’ve said before that we need to approach flexibility differently than this industry has in the past, and today’s announcement builds on that promise to ensure we’re offering industry-leading flexibility, space and care to our customers,” Ed Bastian — who is the current chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines — said. “We want our customers to book and travel with peace of mind, knowing that we’ll continue evaluating our policies to maintain the high standard of flexibility they expect.”

If that is true, then why was the official announcement from Delta Air Lines pertaining to the elimination of change fees prefaced with the following paragraph?

At Delta’s Investor Day in December 2019, the airline shared its intent to overhaul its change fee structure, delivering the flexibility and simplicity customers are looking for. Since then, Delta has put its full focus into taking care of customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including implementing a waiver to eliminate change fees in March 2020. Delta is now doubling down on its mission to make it easier for customers to book, change or cancel their travel plans by making this policy permanent for tickets purchased for travel within the U.S.

If that were the case, the elimination of change fees would have been eliminated long ago and not “coincidentally” the day after United Airlines announced its policy to eliminate change fees — or exactly 40 minutes after American Airlines officially announced what is arguably the most generous policies of all three legacy airlines

…but to the credit of Delta Air Lines, the airline has done a good job overall of doing whatever is possible to ensure that its customers have as much flexibility as possible during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — including but not limited to:


Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

“Do not be surprised if other airlines — such as Delta Air Lines and American Airlines — enact similar policies” is what I wrote yesterday in this article pertaining to United Airlines eliminating change fees in the United States.. I did not expect that the policies would change so soon after the announcement from United Airlines and then American Airlines.

The elimination of change fees is not new in the commercial airline industry in the United States, however, as Southwest Airlines does not charge change fees to its customers as well.

I enjoyed both standby status and complimentary same-day status whenever I have earned elite status on an airline — and I applaud both Delta Air Lines and American Airlines in joining United Airlines for relaxing these policies for their customers…

…but I had always thought that change fees were about the closest thing to pure profit for an airline; and I am glad that change fees have been eliminated by all three legacy airlines in the United States, as that further distinguishes them from the ultra-low-cost airlines.

All photographs ©2007, ©2013, ©2016, and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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