Airline Change Fees and Policies: Travel Updates from A-Z

Since the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into a tailspin last March, airline change fees and policies have grown more flexible. Customers can purchase flights with the option to change their travel dates without penalty, either due to health reasons or simply because they don't feel it's safe enough yet. Some airlines offer the chance to make changes to a flight without paying the difference in fares; others have even made room for full refunds.

The panorama changes on a near-daily basis, so keep that in mind when planning future trips, especially in the short term. Travel during COVID-19 presents a unique set of challenges, but it's possible! Remember to prioritize safety and responsibility above all.

Always double check with the airline before confirming a flight purchase, and review the change fees and policies in detail. Note that said change fees and policies could change at any time.

If you need destination inspiration, check out our 21 Places to Visit in 2021. If you're curious about which countries are open to travelers, don't miss 10 Countries that Don't Require Quarantine Upon Entry.

This information was last updated on January 19, 2021.

Airline Change Fees & Policies from A-Z

Aerolíneas ArgentinasChange Policy

For flights purchased before January 31, 2021, one change is permitted without a penalty fee or fare difference. The new trip must be completed before December 15, 2021.

More information on the Aerolíneas Argentinas website.

Aeroméxico Change Policy

For flights made on or after July 1, 2021, one complimentary change is permitted (the passenger will need to cover the cost of any difference in fare). The voluntary change policy terms do not apply to Basic Fare tickets. Refunds can be requested through an electronic voucher (EMD), which is equal to 115% of the value of the ticket before tax.

More info on the Aeroméxico website.

Alitalia Change Policy

For passengers that do not wish to fly according to their original scheduled ticket, a full cancellation can be requested before departure (no-shows not permitted). Otherwise, they can change their travel dates, flying within one year of the original departure, with no penalty fee. For further details about the Alitalia flight change policy and fees, click here.

More info on the Alitalia website.

American Airlines Change Policy

American Airlines has eliminated all change fees for First, Business, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin tickets for all domestic and short-haul international flying for tickets issued on or after August 31, 2020. Additionally, the airline has eliminated change fees for First, Business, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin tickets for all long-haul international flights originating in North or South America for tickets issued on or after November 19, 2020.

If travel plans change, passengers can keep the full value of their original ticket but will need to pay the fare difference if the new flight is more expensive. However, if the new flight is less expensive, the passenger will receive the fare difference in the form of travel credit to use on a future trip.

More info on the American Airlines website.

Air Canada Change Policy

Air Canada has implemented highly flexible and expanded booking options. Passengers can make a one-time change without a fee for all new or existing bookings made through February 28, 2021 for original travel between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2022. If travel was booked directly with Air Canada and a cancellation is required (for any reason), passengers can convert their ticket to an Air Canada Travel Voucher that has no expiry date, or to Aeroplan points with an additional 65% bonus Aeroplan points.

More info on the Air Canada website.

Avianca Change Policy

For tickets purchased between October 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, passengers may make one change without penalty (no fare difference exemption applies) if rescheduled before the original flight date to travel until December 31st, 2021. This policy does not apply to domestic routes in Colombia and Ecuador or between countries in Central America.

More info on the Avianca website.

British Airways Change Policy

Passengers flying on British Airways can change the dates and destination of the booking without incurring a change fee, although they will need to pay any difference in price (applies to bookings made from March 3, 2020 onwards for journeys that are due to have been completed by August 31, 2021). If a passenger wishes to cancel their booking, British Airways will provide voucher for the same value for a future trip (applies to bookings made from March 3, 2020 onwards for trips that are due to have been completed by August 31, 2021).

More info on the British Airways website.

Copa Airlines Change Policy

For flights purchased between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, Copa Airlines allows passengers to make changes to their booking without any change fees or penalties. The original travel date must be on or after September 1, 2020 and the new itinerary must be completed by December 31, 2021. This only applies to Copa Airlines tickets (both regular and reward); refunds are subject to fare rules conditions, and changes must be made to the prior travel date (no-shows not allowed). If a passenger's flight was cancelled or severely delayed, they can request a travel gift certificate with an extra 20% bonus value, or process a refund through the online system.

More info on the Copa Airlines website.

Delta Airlines Change Policy

Delta has broadly waived its change fees for travel impacted by coronavirus, including any flights purchased before April 17, 2020, departing March 2020 through March 2021, and all tickets purchased March 1, 2020 through March 30, 2021. Eligible passengers can move travel dates and even select a new destination. The unused ticket will be applied toward the new flight, and in some instances a fare difference will apply. If the new fare is lower, the passenger will receive an eCredit for the difference. If the new fare is higher, the difference will be collected.

For Delta tickets purchased in 2021 — after the expiration of its Peace-of-Mind Purchasing waiver for all travel purchased through March 30, 2021 — the airline has eliminated change fees and Award redeposit fees permanently for Delta tickets purchased for travel originating from North America to anywhere in the world (excluding Basic Economy fares).

More info on the Delta Airlines website.

Emirates Change Policy

Passengers on Emirates have two options if their travel plans have been affected by COVID‑19. They can keep the original ticket with the flexibility to fly any time in the next 24 months. They can also request a refund. These options apply to tickets booked for travel on or before June 30, 2021. This policy also applies to passengers that wish to change or cancel their flights even if the change of plans isn't a direct result of coronavirus.

More info on the Emirates website.

Ethiopian Airlines Change Policy

Passengers on Ethiopian whose travel dates take place through April 30, 2021 and tickets issued or before March31, 2021 are eligible to one free flight change. Unlimited changes are permitted free of charge if flight has not started operation or if the flight resumption date is rescheduled by Ethiopian Airlines. If flight has started operation, free change allowed only once. Passengers can keep their ticket for travel until December 31, 2021. The new journey must be completed in full on or before December 31, 2021. Note that any difference in airfare or applicable taxes resulting due to change on booking class and seasonality will need to be paid by the passenger.

More info on the Ethiopian Airlines website.

GOL Change Policy

For international flights on Gol, passengers with flights until March 31, 2021 can make changes without penalties or fees. Travel must be completed by December 31, 2021. Fare and/or seasonality differences may apply. Passengers can also change their destination, but any fare differences will need to be paid.

More info on the GOL website.

Iberia Change Policy

Iberia passengers can change their ticket to travel on another date without penalty. Additionally, all passengers can change the date of their flights free of charge or receive a refund in the form of a travel voucher if they are affected by any of the following circumstances less than 15 days before departure: new entry restrictions at their destination, sudden lockdown or quarantine measures at their destination that cannot be avoided by a negative COVID-19 test, sudden lockdown or quarantine measures at their place of origin, or if the passenger tests positive for COVID-19.

More info on the Iberia website.

Latam Airlines Change Policy

In the case of a cancellation on Latam, the ticket remains open for 12 months from the original date or departure. Changes can be made without any penalties or fare difference fees. If a passenger wishes to chance their flight for another reason, one change can be made through June 30, 2021 without any fee or penalty; the ticket can also be left open, but fare differences apply. Refunds through travel vouchers can be requested, which are valid through December 31, 2021.

More info on the  Latam website.

Lufthansa Change Policy

All Lufthansa fares and ticket prices can be rebooked for existing as well as new bookings on short, medium and long-haul routes. This also applies for cancelled flights. For flights booked until or on February 28, 2021, all fares can be rebooked free of charge (except for travel originating in Japan to Europe). Departure and destination airports can also be changed. If the rebooked fare is more expensive due to a change of route or a necessary change of travel or booking class, an additional charge may be necessary.

More info on the Lufthansa website.

KLM Change Policy

Tickets booked before March 31, 2021 can be changed (date or destination) without fee or penalty; fare differences may apply. Refunds can be requested via travel vouchers that will be valid for one year after date of issue.

More info on the KLM website.

Sky Airline Change Policy

Sky Airline has extended the date for the use of return voucher through December 31, 2021. In addition, all travel purchases made between March 20 and August 31, 2021 passengers will be able to: change their travel dates without penalties or fare difference; modify the travel route free of charge (fare differences may apply); change their reservation up to one hour before the flight's departure. This policy applies to all flights completed through December 31, 2021.

More info on the Sky Airline website.

United Airlines Change Policy

United has permanently eliminated change fees for most Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the United States (including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). There are no change fees for other international travel originating in the United States. For tickets issued through March 31, 2021, passengers will be permitted to change without paying a change fee to a flight of equal or lesser value for travel up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date.

If the new flight is priced higher, the passenger may change for no change fee, but must pay the fare difference. If the new flight is priced lower, the customer may change without paying a change fee but no residual value will be given.

If the passenger decides to change or cancel the flight they booked until March 31, 2021, they can retain the value of the ticket to be applied to a new ticket without a change fee for travel up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date. Any changes or cancellation must occur prior to ticketed travel date.

More info on the United Airlines website.

Vueling Change Policy

Vueling offers a free ticket change (fare differences may apply) to all passengers. Flights can be cancelled for free up to 48 hours before departure. The value will be returned in the form of flight credit. For greater flexibility, by choosing the TimeFlex fare option, passengers can make changes as many times as they'd like, paying only the cost of any potential fare differences.

More info on the Vueling website.

Paige Nichols
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