Did you know you can save money after you’ve booked a flight?
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused airlines around the world to rethink their approach to their long-standard “change and cancellation fees.”
You know, those pesky, arbitrary fees that airlines used to charge you every time you wanted to make a change to your ticket.
In the past, if airfare prices dropped after you’d paid for your ticket, it didn’t matter much. If you tried to get the better price, airlines would impose a hefty change fee (often hundreds of dollars), which would reduce or wipe out any savings.
Beginning in 2020, as a result of Covid, airlines dramatically revised their change and cancellation policies, largely eliminating these once-onerous fees that limited or eliminated flexibility.
Why such a major change to benefit customers?
Don’t worry–it’s not some mind-blowing altruistic shift over at the airlines. It’s because the new relaxed policies benefit them, too.
There is a lot of uncertainty these days when it comes to booking travel, including government travel restrictions that can change overnight–even while you are in the middle of a trip.
In the “before” times, prior to Covid, demand for travel was steady and airlines could get away with either outright refusing to offer refunds to passengers or charging hefty “change” fees that cost hundreds of dollars.
But airlines have seats to fill. And they’ve had to find ways to encourage customers to book flights when travelers know that their plans could change unexpectedly and for reasons beyond their own control.
Uncertainty is not good for business.
So, one way many airlines have shored up consumer confidence is by eliminating change and cancellation fees.
So what happens now when fares drop after I’ve booked?
In most cases these days, you are entitled to a credit from the airline for the full difference in the old vs. new cost of the ticket–in the form of a travel credit for future travel.
Of course, every airline has a slightly different process for obtaining a refund and different rules based on the type of fare that you’ve purchased.
For example, starting in 2022, a “main cabin” ticket on Delta Air Lines will be eligible for a credit, but a “basic economy” ticket will no longer qualify. Last year, even tickets booked in basic economy are eligible for fee-free changes.
Did your eyes just glaze over? If so, please keep reading.
It’s a lot to keep up with. The good news is that you don’t have to do the work.