It’s no secret that with novel coronavirus and its COVID-19 disease on the scene, airlines are worried.
People are cancelling flights left and right and the CDC has issued travel advisories to certain areas. You’re a KCL reader, so you’re smart and you don’t need me to tell you to be informed before you travel. But still, be informed.
As far as the travel industry is concerned, while I’m sure airlines are concerned for their passengers’ safety, it’s not unrealistic to assume they’re also concerned about their financial losses.
Will airlines counteract these losses with lower fares? Here’s what we know.
Airlines (and Amtrak!) have withdrawn change fees on domestic travel, saving travelers up to $200.
When something comes up and you need to change or cancel a flight, most airlines will ding you for it, charging you a fee to make the change. For example, American, Delta, and United all charge up to $200 to change a domestic flight and up to $750 for an international flight.
But since novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, airlines are rethinking their strategy in a move that both helps people to postpone travel and encourages people to buy more airline tickets. If travellers know they can cancel or change their flights, they’re more likely to book.
Right now these airlines and trains have withdrawn change fees on international and domestic travel.
- American Airlines: If you bought your ticket before March 1, 2020 for travel through April 30, 2020, American Airlines will waive change fees. If you purchased tickets March 1 – March 31, 2020, you can rebook without change fees.
- United Airlines: All change fees are waived for customers flying domestic or international now through April 30, 2020.
- Alaska Airlines: Change fees are waived for tickets purchased between Feb. 27 and Mar. 12, covering travel through June 1.
- Delta Airlines: If your ticket was issued between Mar. 1 and Mar. 31, or if you are booked to travel through April 30, 2020, you won’t be charged a change fee.
- Jet Blue: If you booked your flight for travel through April 30, 2020, you won’t be charged a fee to change your flight.
- Southwest Airlines: Southwest doesn’t charge change fees.
- Amtrak: All change fees are waived on reservations made before Apr. 30.
Despite change fee waivers, you’ll still pay the difference in price for your new ticket…
It’s great to be able to postpone a trip or book a trip with the peace of mind that you can put it off if you need to. But realize that if you got a steal on the price of your flight, you won’t get that price when you go to rebook it. You’ll pay whatever the current price is.
So if you got roundtrip tickets to New York City for $150 but you decide to push your flight a few months when tickets are more like $400, you’ll pay $250 on top of the $150 you already paid.
…Except for these airlines, who are offering refunds on flight cancellations.
Many airlines flying to affected countries and areas of the United States are dedicated to the prevention and spread of the disease. In an effort to protect their passengers, airlines like Alaska and JetBlue are giving travelers the option to completely cancel certain flights — without fees. Discount travel sites like Expedia are also offering refunds according to the policies of the airlines customers booked with.
These airlines have put flight cancellations and fee-waiving policies into effect:
- American Airlines: If you’ve booked a flight on or before March 16, 2020 you’re eligible for a one-time fee-free trip cancellation. Go to AmericanAirlines.com for specific details.
- Alaska Airlines: Their new Peace of Mind policy allows passengers who’ve purchased a Saver fare between Feb. 27, 2020 – Apr. 30, 2020 for travel through Feb. 28, 2021 to cancel trips and have the funds deposited into their My Account wallet. For First Class and Main fare ticket holders, Alaska Airlines will allow you to make a one-time change with no fee or cancel and have funds deposited into your My Account wallet.
- Frontier Airlines: The new change policy states that bookings made between March 10 and March 31, 2020 are eligible for a one-time no-fee change or cancellation to receive a credit valid for 90 days. Call 801-401-9000 to make a change.
- JetBlue: Receive a travel credit, valid for one year, for JetBlue cancellations for travel booked March 10, 2020 through April 30, 2020.
Airlines are still offering spring airfare sales and deals.
Whether it’s called a Leap Year deal or a spring sale, airlines are trying to tempt you with deals.
If you’re concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak, consider booking one of these deals for a few months down the road.
Here are a few we’ve seen:
- One-way tickets to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines for as low as $99. Starting at $99 for cities like Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, Seattle and Portland.
- One-way tickets on Alaska Airlines starting at $20.
- Southwest flights for as low as $39 one way.
Keep tabs on flight price drops by bookmarking sites like Airfare Watchdog, KAYAK, Expedia, Google Flights, and Yapta. Or just let us do it for you! Download the KCL app and we’ll tell you when we see the best flight deals.
TIP: If you travel internationally, you will have to undergo a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days upon re-entry into the U.S. to ensure you don’t infect others if you have the virus!