Changing An Airline Ticket? Here Is A Chart Comparing Which Airlines Now Allow Free Changes On Paid And Award Tickets!

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United shocked the airline industry when they announced they would permanently eliminate change fees on domestic flights.

Of course given that United sold lifetime Club Memberships, lifetime Silver Wings Memberships, and awarded lifetime million miler benefits which they didn’t honor as promised, I’ll take “permanently” with a huge grain of salt. The change will last as long as they want it to last, and not a day longer.

But part of the strategy may be to get more people to buy up from basic economy fares to standard economy fares, as basic economy fares are excluded from the free changes. If that’s successful then the change may indeed stick around.

Of course Southwest never charges change fees, refunds the residual value when switching to a less expensive flight, and they don’t sell basic economy fares. Even with the competition eliminating some fees, Southwest is still a step ahead of everyone else.

At any rate, each of the airlines’ policies have many nuances, so I’ve collected them in the chart below for comparison sake. Of course these are all subject to change, but this is how things stand now.

This chart applies to tickets purchased in 2020, for travel anytime:

Ticket typeAlaskaAmericanDeltaHawaiianJetBlueUnited
Paid tickets worldwide, including basic economyNo change fees. All funds can be deposited into Alaska Wallet so that no value is lost.No change fees.
Voucher issued for residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
No change fees.
Voucher issued for residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
No change fees.
Voucher issued for residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
No change fees. All funds can be deposited into JetBlue TravelBank so that no value is lost.No change fees. Request an electronic travel certificate as a refund so that you don't lose any residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
Award tickets worldwideNo change or redeposit fees.No change or redeposit fees.No change or redeposit fees.No change or redeposit fees.No change or redeposit fees.No change fees. Redeposit fees waived if award is cancelled 30+ days prior to departure.

 

This chart applies to tickets purchased in 2021:

Ticket typeAlaskaAmericanDeltaHawaiianJetBlueUnited
Paid basic economy worldwideChanges not allowed.Changes not allowed. Starting 10/1 basic economy can purchase upgrades, priority boarding, or preferred seating, and elite benefits will apply.Changes not allowed.Changes not allowed.Change fees waived on purchases through 2/28/21. Afterward, TBD.Changes not allowed.
Paid tickets in the USNo change fees. Alaska has not yet announced if the residual value will be lost when making a change to a less expensive flight.No change fees.
Voucher issued for residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
No change fees.
Voucher issued for residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
No change fees.
You will lose residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
Change fees waived on purchases through 2/28/21. Afterward, TBD.No change fees.
You will lose residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
Award tickets in the USAlaska awards can be changed or redeposited for free. Alaska has not yet announced the policy for partner awards.No change fees. Redeposit fees waived if cancelled 60+ days before departure.No change or redeposit fees, except basic economy awards.No change or redeposit fees.Change and redeposit fees waived on purchases through 2/28/21. Afterward, TBD.No change fees. Redeposit fees waived if cancelled 30+ days before departure.
Paid tickets to CanadaNo change fees. Alaska has not yet announced if the residual value will be lost when making a change to a less expensive flight.No change fees.
Voucher issued for residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
Regular change fees apply.Hawaiian doesn't fly to Canada.JetBlue doesn't fly to Canada.Regular change fees apply.
Award tickets to CanadaAlaska awards can be changed or redeposited for free. Alaska has not yet announced the policy for partner awards.No change fees. Redeposit fees waived if cancelled 60+ days before departure.Regular change fees apply.Hawaiian doesn't fly to Canada.JetBlue doesn't fly to Canada.Change or redeposit fees waived if done 30+ days before departure.
Paid tickets to Mexico or CaribbeanNo change fees. Alaska has not yet announced if the residual value will be lost when making a change to a less expensive flight.No change fees.
Voucher issued for residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
Regular change fees apply.Hawaiian doesn't fly to Mexico or the Caribbean.Change fees waived on purchases through 2/28/21. Afterward, TBD.No change fees.
You will lose residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
Award tickets to Mexico or CaribbeanAlaska awards can be changed or redeposited for free. Alaska has not yet announced the policy for partner awards.No change fees. Redeposit fees waived if cancelled 60+ days before departure.Regular change fees apply.Hawaiian doesn't fly to Mexico or the Caribbean.Change and redeposit fees waived on purchases through 2/28/21. Afterward, TBD.No change fees. Redeposit fees waived if cancelled 30+ days before departure.
Paid tickets elsewhere in the worldNo change fees Alaska has not yet announced if the residual value will be lost when making a change to a less expensive flight.Regular change fees apply.Regular change fees apply.No change fees.
You will lose residual value when making a change to a less expensive flight.
Change fees waived on purchases through 2/28/21. Afterward, TBD.Regular change fees apply.
Award tickets elsewhere in the worldAlaska awards can be changed or redeposited for free. Alaska has not yet announced the policy for partner awards.Change or redeposit fees waived if done 60+ days before departure.Regular change fees apply.No change or redeposit fees.Change and redeposit fees waived on purchases through 2/28/21. Afterward, TBD.Change or redeposit fees waived if done 30+ days before departure.
Standby Fees WorldwideRegular standby fees apply.No fees on paid, basic economy, and award tickets.Regular standby fees apply.Regular standby fees apply.Regular standby fees apply.No fees on paid, basic economy, and award tickets.

So, which airline did it best?

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47 Comments On "Changing An Airline Ticket? Here Is A Chart Comparing Which Airlines Now Allow Free Changes On Paid And Award Tickets!"

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KSMH

It might help to add that HUCA is required many times to get an ETC on UA
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=2046.msg2329645#msg2329645

Sam

What about Air Canada?

Yank

Can I change name on ticket to someone else ?

Nic

So I booked an AA award ticket in May 2020 for travel in March 2021 – at the time I don’t think redeposit was free – is it now or am I held to the original rules?

Elchanan

Does anyone know about Avianca lifemiles award ticket ?

Mr. CC

What’s the number to SMS United?

rediplus

Used BA and Alaska to book on AA …how to change or cancel ?

Izz

Thanks for putting this together! I have been looking for exactly this type of list a couple weeks ago and will be a good resource. Until the policy changes that is..

Danfan+

Is that for changes only or also if i want to cancel?

Mordy

I used a electronic travel certificate for United and I lost the residual value

Yitz

This a great must’ve taken you a ton of time to put this together! Question, on UA and AA, with domestic award tickets in 2021, can I change a ticket indefinitely rather than cancel and redeposit? Eventually il use it somewhere. Is there a max number of times or a latest date that it can be changed until? And can I change city pairs or just dates?

David

Thanks Dan!
I was waiting for such a post, Its great.

ari3

Clear and informative as usual. Now it’s time for the int’l airlines to jump on the bandwagon.

Alan

Does frontier allow free cancellations now?

jef

If I book a BA operated flight with AA miles in 2020, how will AA treat the huge taxes and fees if I cancel? Do they refund the cash portion 100% as part of the ‘redeposit’?

Eli

Can i change an upcoming united ticket to more than 30 days away and then cancel to avoid the change fee?

...

AA redeposit waiver is even in web special?

ETP

This is fantastic! Thank you. It will be great if you can write a similar post for foreign airlines which are frequently used for award redemptions (British Airways, Air Canada, Avianca, Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and maybe Air France or Qantas)

mord1

so basically, if you use miles you can cancel the ticket and get your miles back, if you book a flight with cash then you can change it for later, but you cannot receive a full refund of the cash?

anon

So basically if I already have a united ETC and I see a flight I might want there’s nothing to lose by booking it bec I can just cancel it back to an ETC, right?

meir

Great Post…,
I have an Explorer Card, if i purchase multiple tickets under my itinerary and i end up not flying (and don’t cancel my ticket) will the carry on bags be waived for the others automatically ?

chaz

As always the GURU comes through with an extraordinary post.

JetBlue travel bank won\'t expire?

Your chart seems to imply that. Is it the case?

Jack

Hi Dan,
I booked a united flight through Turkish, do you know if I can cancel?

Andy

I didn’t see Your favorite airline Spirit anywhere in your chart.

David

Thanks for the useful list. In my experience the AA waiver on award tickets only applies to web specials if they are for travel in 2020 — have you seen reports of folks getting bookings for 2021 travel redeposited without a fee?

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