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The cost for changing or canceling a flight will vary by airline. Here we'll break it down and offer some tips for avoiding change and cancellation fees altogether. The cost to change or cancel a flight depends upon the specific details of an airline's policy, which vary by airline. In some cases, you can make changes to your itinerary with no fee.
Every major U.S. airline (except Southwest Airlines) typically charges penalty fees to change or cancel an economy fare flight. The fees, however, can vary from as low as $75 on a domestic flight to more than $400 on an international flight.
However, many airlines are temporarily waiving change fees due to the pandemic. Also, if you have elite status with a particular carrier, fees may be waived or you may be able to change your flight for free or for a reduced cost. Below, we've broken out the fees:
Airline flight change fees for economy fares
Alaska Airlines is among many airlines that have permanently eliminated their change and cancellation fees, applying to both standard and first class fares. However, same-day change fees will still apply. For standard and first class flights, same-day confirmed changes incur a $50 fee, while flights entirely within California or Alaska's shuttle markets will incur a $25 fee. MileagePlan MVP Gold or 75K members can make free same-day flight changes.
Alaska Airlines coronavirus change fee policy
Alaska Airlines is now offering its "Peace of Mind" waiver, and permanently eliminating change and cancellation fees for all tickets purchased on or after May 1, 2021. Fare differences may apply. You can receive a refund on your Alaska Airlines account or receive a credit for future travel.
Be sure to check the Alaska Airlines website for up to date information on the coronavirus situation.
Allegiant Air has a stringent change and cancellation policy, which should come as no surprise as an ultra-low-cost carrier. You must change or cancel your flight at least seven days before travel, and Allegiant charges a $75 fee per segment — meaning that the total cost of altering both legs of a roundtrip flight would be $150. Allegiant will not refund the difference nor the carrier charges or any other booking fees, and you'll receive a non-refundable, non-transferable voucher for future travel up to two years from the original booking date. Within seven days of travel, no changes are allowed and no credit is given unless you purchased Allegiant's "Trip Flex" add-on at the time of booking.
Allegiant Air coronavirus change fee policy
Due to COVID-19, beginning May 1, 2021, Allegiant has temporarily reduced its change and cancellation fee to $25 per person per flight segment.
For the most up to date information, see the Allegiant Air website.
American Airlines has also revamped many of its change and cancellation fees, allowing much more flexibility than ever before. For tickets issued on or after Aug. 31, 2020, American Airlines has permanently eliminated its change and cancellation fees for flights within the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For tickets issued on or after Nov. 19, 2020, American also permanently eliminated its change and cancellation fees on international flights originating from North and South America to Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, South America and the United Kingdom.
Note that with either amendment, Basic Economy fares purchased on or after April 1, 2021 cannot be refunded or changed. Fare differences will apply, but if your new booking is cheaper, you'll receive a travel credit for a future trip. Same-day flight changes are available on select flights for a $75 fee. Meanwhile, same-day flight changes between New York (JFK) and London (LHR) will incur a $150 fee. Customers can stand by for a same-day flight on flights within the U.S., to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for no charge.
American Airlines coronavirus change fee policy
See the above.
For updated information, see the American Airlines website.
Delta Air Lines has permanently eliminated many of its change and cancellation fees, which previously started at a minimum of $200 per ticket. There are no longer change fees for tickets within the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as for all international travel originating from North America, including SkyTeam and codeshare flights. However, basic economy fares are not included in this new policy and cannot be changed or canceled.
Same-day flight confirmed changes incur a $75 fee. Delta Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion members are exempt from all same-day change fees.
Delta Air Lines coronavirus change fee policy
See the above.
For updated information, see the Delta Air Lines website.
Although Frontier Airlines is an ultra-low cost carrier, it offers a somewhat flexible change and cancellation policy compared to its competitors. Keep in mind that these fees apply per direction, meaning that changing a round-trip flight will incur fees costing double the amount listed below:
- 60 or more days prior to departure: Incur no change fees
- Seven to 59 days prior to departure: $49
- Six days or less prior to departure (including same-day changes): $79
You will be responsible for any additional fare difference. However, if your new itinerary is cheaper than your original flight, you will not receive a refund for the fare difference. Flight cancellations will be refunded as a travel credit. If you purchased THE WORKS bundle at the time of booking, you can get a full refund on your ticket. THE WORKS also provides other benefits that don't come with Frontier's basic offerings, such as a carry-on bag, checked bag, seat selection and priority boarding.
Frontier Airlines coronavirus change fee policy
See the above.
For updated information, see the Frontier Airlines website.
Hawaiian Airlines has dropped many of its change and cancellation fees, alongside many domestic airlines. You won't have to pay any change fees for main cabin, extra comfort, first and premium tickets. Main cabin basic tickets cannot be changed or canceled unless they're covered by a Covid-19 travel waiver, which applies until the designated expiration date.
Pualani Platinum and Gold members and corporate customers are eligible for same-day standby changes to neighbor flights for no charge. All other flyers will not be able to wait for standby.
Hawaiian Airlines coronavirus change fee policy
See the above.
Additional details are available on the Hawaiian Airlines website.
While most fares will not have to pay any change or cancellation fees, Blue Basic fares are the exception. However, Blue Basic fares booked from Aug. 25 to Oct. 31, 2021 and before June 7, 2021 will not incur any change or cancellation fees. Blue Basic fares purchased from June 8 to Aug. 24, 2021 and after Nov. 1, 2021 will require a change/cancellation fee of $100 per person for travel within the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America. It will cost $200 for all other fares.
For all fare classes, there is a $75 same-day change fee without paying a fare difference. For Mosaic members, there is no fee.
JetBlue coronavirus change fee policy
See the above.
For updated information, see the JetBlue website.
Before the pandemic, Southwest Airlines was the only domestic airline not to charge any change or cancellation fees. If you want to change a ticket, you only have to pay the difference in fare. Refunds on canceled flights are given as a travel credit, which can typically be used within one year of the booking date.
If you're looking for a same-day flight change, it will depend on the original ticket purchased. With a Wanna Get Away ticket, you must upgrade to the full Anytime fare in order to change to another same-day flight. Meanwhile, Southwest A-Listers can access same-day changes for free.
Southwest Airlines coronavirus change fee policy
Even with the coronavirus outbreak, they have kept their change fee policy largely the same. However, travel funds with an expiration date of Sept. 7, 2022, can be converted into Rapid Rewards points, which never expire.
For updated information, see the Southwest website.
Spirit charges different change and cancellation fees depending on how far out you are from your departure date:
Days from departure
|0 to 2 days from departure||$99|
|Three to six days from departure||$79|
|Seven to 59 days from departure||$49|
|60+ days from departure||Free|
Spirit Airlines coronavirus change fee policy
For updated information, see the Spirit Airlines website.
United Airlines has permanently eliminated its change and cancellation fees for Economy, Economy Plus, First, Business and Premium Plus tickets within the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and flights from the U.S. to Mexico and the Caribbean. Flight changes are not allowed for basic economy fares. For other international flights, there won't be change or cancellation fees as long as your ticket is issued by Jan. 31, 2022.
United Airlines coronavirus change fee policy
See the above.
For updated information, see United Airlines website.
A simple way to change or cancel a flight without paying a fee is to do so within 24 hours of booking.
After this window, the next option is to wait to see if the airline makes a change to the flight — the departure time, the aircraft, etc. — which will automatically grant you a refund if you change or cancel. Otherwise, some airlines, like Southwest, let you cancel your flight at no cost, and you likely won't be charged if you have proof of a family emergency or, in some cases, if you hold elite status with an airline.
If you intend to cancel a flight due to COVID-19, many airlines are making special exceptions to waive cancellation fees. United Airlines was the first major U.S. airline to permanently eliminate change and cancellation fees — and other airlines quickly followed suit. While there are still a few noteworthy exceptions, now it's easier than ever to adjust your itinerary for little to no cost.
Changing or canceling a flight with credit card travel insurance
If you can't get your money back by canceling a trip through an airline, you may be able to do so through your credit card company. Credit cards with travel insurance can be used to reimburse nonrefundable expenses on canceled trips. If you used a credit card with this perk to purchase any part of your trip, you might be eligible for a refund if your trip is a "covered loss." Depending on the card, you may be refunded up to $20,000. For most card issuers, covered losses include: injury, illness or death of a traveling partner or business partner, weather, terrorism and jury duty.
In general, trip cancellation and trip interruption are covered by credit cards with travel insurance. Both cardholders and immediate family members tend to be covered with credit card travel insurance, even if the primary cardholder isn't traveling on a trip. Card issuers typically don't cover trips that last over a certain length, such as 60 days, or ones that are canceled because of a change in your plans or your personal finances.
The following cards offer travel insurance, in the form of trip interruption and trip cancellation insurance:
Trip Interruption/Trip Cancellation Insurance
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip||$550|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip||$0|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip||$95|
|United Club℠ Infinite Card||Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip||$525|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip||$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card||Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip||$95|
Common reasons airlines waive change fees
In a few circumstances, airlines allow travelers to cancel or change their nonrefundable tickets for free. The most common cancellations for which airlines waive change fees are:
- Cases of personal injury or illness
- Jury duty
- Natural disasters
- Family death
- Military deployment
In all of these cases, you should call the airline's customer service line to explain your situation. Be prepared to provide proof of the reason for the requested change or cancellation, as most airlines will require you to submit supporting documentation.
Depending on the airline and your situation, you'll either receive a travel credit or a monetary refund after your change is approved. Airlines will usually waive the change fee and grant a travel credit that can be used within a year of the original booking date.
Many airlines are waiving their change fees during the COVID-19 outbreak, and allowing customers to receive full refunds or credits for flights at a later time. Each airline has a slightly different policy, so be sure to contact them for the exact terms.
Award ticket change and cancellation policy
If you booked your tickets with credit card points, you'll likely still have to pay a change or cancellation fee. Several major airlines require fees for changing your award travel or or you must cancel and redeposit your miles.
It's important to note that the rules for awards programs vary from airline to airline. In addition, there may be different rules depending on whether you transferred points from your credit card's general rewards program. If you're unsure about the rules of your particular program or airline, it's best to call the customer service number and speak with a representative about your options.
Quick tips to avoid cancellation or change fees
There are some general ways you can cancel or change your flight without needing to pay any fees at all, or at least mitigate the cost of your change/cancellation fees:
1. Change or cancel your ticket within 24 hours of booking.
The primary way to avoid paying a change fee on an airplane ticket is to change or cancel the ticket within a day of booking your trip. The Department of Transportation has a long-standing policy that requires airlines to provide free changes to consumers within 24 hours of purchasing, so long as a ticket is bought at least seven days before a flight. Once the 24-hour grace period ends, your options for modifying your itinerary for free depend on what type of ticket you have.
2. Wait to see if the airline changes or cancels your flight.
Outside the 24-hour post-booking window, basic economy fares are often nonrefundable. Your best chance at changing your basic economy ticket for free is to wait and see if the airline changes some aspect of the flight. If the airline moves the flight time by a significant margin or changes the type of aircraft, then you might be eligible for a refund.
3. Make smaller changes
Round-trip fares are likely to incur greater change/cancellation fees than one-way fares. If you purchased a round-trip flight and need to change the first leg to a different day, your best bet will likely be to pay the change fee and book a new flight. If you only need to change the return portion of a round trip, however, it may be cheaper to book a new one-way flight than to pay the cancellation fee.
If your ticket is one-way rather than round-trip, the most affordable way to change your flight may be to skip the current ticket and buy a new fare, depending on the cancellation fee charged by your airline. In some cases, the cancellation fee alone can cost more than booking a new flight altogether. Plus, airlines charge the difference in fare when you purchase a new ticket — so if you bought your ticket at $150, for example, and the current price for that fare is $275, you'd need to pay $125 on top of any cancellation fee.
4. Consider standby
For those looking to move their flight time to earlier or later in the day, airlines offer two different options — standby and same-day confirmed change — which usually cost $100 or less. With a same-day confirmed change, you forfeit your current ticket and pay a fee to get a guaranteed seat on another flight. With standby, you pay a fee to be placed on a waiting list for the next available flight to your destination, and you get to keep your current reservation.
Can you reschedule a flight?
Yes, you can reschedule or cancel a flight. However, you may need to pay a change or cancellation fee depending on the airline you booked with and the fare class of your ticket. Luckily during Covid-19, many airlines have reduced change fees or waived them altogether.
How much does it cost to change a flight?
The cost of changing a flight will depend on the particular airline you're booked with and which fare class you purchased. Many airlines have currently waived change fees for economy fares and higher, but still require change fees for basic economy fares. These fees can range from $25 to $100+, depending on the airline's policy.
How much does it cost to cancel a flight?
Much like with change fees, many airlines have reduced the cost of or eliminated cancellation fees altogether. To determine the cost of canceling your flight, you will need to check with your airline directly.
Which airlines don't charge change fees?
Many airlines have eliminated change fees, including Delta, United and American, to name a few.