Delta Air Lines on Monday said it will allow travelers with tickets to any destination in March and April to change or cancel their flight without paying a heavy exchange fee, regardless of when they purchased the ticket.
“As doubts persist about the coronavirus known as COVID-19, we are doing all we can to ensure the safety of our customers and employees,” Delta said in the policy announcement. “We have adapted flight schedules to the affected areas, have waived many modification costs and are working with customers to adapt travel plans, using relationships with other airlines when necessary. ”
United followed suit on Monday evening, announcing on its website and social media that the airline would waive exchange fees for the next 12 months for flights booked between March 3 and March 31, 2020.
United has said that customers will be allowed to switch for free on a flight of equal or lesser value up to one year from the date of issue of the original ticket; if the flight has a higher price, passengers must pay the difference in fare.
Delta and other airlines have been heavily criticized this month for giving up only the change fees travelers buying new tickets, a policy designed to increase declining ticket sales. Southwest is the only major airline that normally does not charge an exchange fee.
Last week, Senator Richard Blumenthal sent letters to the CEOs of Delta, United and American, asking them to waive the modification and cancellation fees for all flights, not just those purchased in March.
Blumenthal said that the tax exemptions issued by American, Delta and others were “welcome passes” but too limited because they only affect travelers who purchase new airline tickets, for example travelers who bought last spring’s holiday tickets. autumn would not be covered.
“Airlines should allow consumers to adapt their travel plans, regardless of when those decisions are made or when a passenger ticket was purchased,” said Doug Parker in the letter to American CEO.
Delta changed its policy late last week to cover international flights, regardless of when the flight was booked, but not domestic flights.
The waiver announced on Monday covers flights to all Delta destinations. Covers passengers with tickets to travel until April 30th. Travelers who know the dates they wish to change can do without paying exchange fees that start at $ 200 per person. Any fare difference will apply from the time of booking the flight.
Passengers who do not know when they want to travel again can cancel their flight and receive a voucher for the value of the ticket. They will not have to pay an exchange fee when redeeming the voucher, which is standard practice.
Travelers traveling in May or beyond will have to pay a modification fee unless Delta extends the policy.
Lindy Lin, a federal investigator who lives in Los Angeles, is confident American and other airlines will fight Delta’s move.
Lin is expected to fly to Miami this weekend for her bachelorette party, but the group has decided they don’t want to fly because some members have children or fragile relatives at home.
The party is moved to Palm Desert, California for a 2.5 hour drive.
Lin said she has trouble convincing the American to waive the exchange fee on her $ 430 ticket from Miami to Los Angeles.
“They want to get $ 200 of that,” he said, leaving her with a $ 230 ticket. “That’s absurd.”
Drawing on Blumenthal’s appeal to airlines, Lin began to Change.org petition to get American to change its exchange rate policies during the outbreak.