UPDATED 6/23/20

I hope all of you and your loved ones are coping during this trying time. Whether you’re hunkering down at home with work or study, or are still needed in public as a healthcare professional or otherwise essential employee, I wish you all good health and peace of mind.

Below I will go into detail on the current policies for the top five US airlines (defined by passengers carried).

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To keep call volume down, change or cancel your flight online if possible. You may be able to see within your reservation on the appopriate website if your flight is eligible for changes/cancellations. Find your…

If you aren’t given the option to change it online, and are traveling within the next 72 hours, then go ahead and call.

Regarding Travel Vouchers in Place of Actual Refunds

Unfortunately various airlines are pushing travel vouchers instead of outright refunds for flights cancelled by the airlines themselves, not customers. By travel voucher, I mean a credit to be used for a future flight.

If this happens to you, know that you have the right to an actual refund if a travel voucher is not what you want.

  1. If they will not process a refund, quote the Department of Transportation’s statement enforcing that airlines owe you a refund if your flight was cancelled. Since originally publishing the previously linked statement, the DOT published another statement clarifying consumers’ rights that I also recommend reading before calling in.
  2. If that still doesn’t work, hang up and call again to see if a different rep will handle things differently.
  3. If calling again still fails, file a complaint with the DOT and try getting your credit card issuer to go to bat for you by disputing the charge with them. To be clear, you will want to dispute the charge (as you are not receiving what you paid for), not report fraudulent activity.

Already accepted a voucher, and now your flight’s canceled (or significantly changed)? Don’t worry. You still have rights.

If you already accepted a voucher for a flight that ended up getting canceled–because you thought that was your only option at the time–then know that you still have a right to turn that voucher into a refund. The following is from the DOT’s Enforcement Notice Regarding Refunds by Carriers (due to COVID-19):

“Specifically, the Aviation Enforcement Office will refrain from pursuing an enforcement action against a carrier that provided passengers vouchers for future travel in lieu of refunds for cancelled or significantly delayed flights during the COVID-19 public health emergency so long as: (1) the carrier contacts, in a timely manner, the passengers provided vouchers for flights that the carrier cancelled or significantly delayed to notify those passengers that they have the option of a refund…”

And now, on to the major US carriers’ current policies.

American Airlines

COVID-19 Info Page

  • Customer Service Number: 800-433-7300
  • AAdvantage Customer Service Number: 800-882-8880
Photo by Colin Brown
  • If you bought/buy a ticket before June 30, 2020, for travel through September 30, 2020, you can rebook without change fees. Travel must be completed by December 31, 2021.
  • For new travel booked by June 30, 2020, for any travel in the future, you can also change your reservation to a later date without change fees.
  • If your ticket expires between March 1 and September 30, 2020, the value of your unused ticket can be used through the end of 2021.

Note that the waived change fees only apply to one change per trip, and fare differences may apply. Check AA’s Travel Alerts page for more specifics on your destination, as they vary by country.

What about flights booked with miles?

As long as they fall under the same waivers listed above, award flights should be refunded in the form of miles back to your account. AA is not, anecdotally, charging redeposit fees.

Delta

COVID-19 Info Page

  • Customer Service Number: 800-221-1212
  • SkyMiles Customer Service Number: 800-323-2323
Photo by brando

All travel booked between March 1 and June 30 can be changed for free for up to a year after purchase. If you don’t know when you want to reschedule travel, you will receive an eCredit (travel voucher) that must be used by September 2022. The lifetime of any existing eCredits or canceled travel from March through September 30, 2020 can also be extended as late as September 2022.

If you purchased your ticket before April 17th, fare difference for tickets traveling by September 30, 2020 will not be collected if the new date is more expensive. If it’s cheaper, you will get eCredit to use for a future flight.

What about flights booked with miles?

The same waivers apply to award flights. You should get your miles refunded and redeposit fees waived.

United

COVID-19 Info Page

  • Customer Service Number: 800-864-8331
  • MileagePlus Customer Service Number: 800-421-4655

United is allowing free changes for 12 months on all flights booked until June 30, 2020.

There are no change fees for all tickets issued on or before March 2 — domestic or international — with original travel dates of June 1 through December 31, as long as the changes are made by June 30. Your new flight must depart within 24 months of when your original ticket was booked.

If you don’t know when you want to rebook you can cancel your flight and rebook later with change fees waived. You must travel within 24 months of when the travel voucher is issued.

What about flights booked with miles?

The same travel waiver dates apply to award flights. Miles will be redeposited without any fee.

Southwest

COVID-19 Info Page

  • Southwest Customer Service: 800-435-9792
  • Rapid Rewards Customer Service: 800-248-4377

Southwest has never charged change nor cancellations fees. Change your Southwest flight here.

From their website: “If a Customer’s plans change, or they decide they no longer want to travel, the funds used to pay for their flight can be applied to future travel – as long as they cancel their flight at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. The funds are valid for future travel up to one year from the original purchase date and must be used by the individual named on the ticket“.

That policy is for “Wanna Get Away Fares”, which are the cheapest. If you purchased an Anytime or Business Select Fare, those are fully refundable in the form of cash or a statement credit on your credit card.

Due to COVID-19, Southwest is extending the validity of travel funds depending on when your ticket was purchased as well as allowing conversion of travel funds into Rapid Reward points:

  • Travel funds that expire between March 1 – September 7, 2020, will now expire September 7, 2022.
  • Travel funds created because you cancel a flight between March 1 – September 7, 2020, will expire September 7, 2022.
  • Travel funds that are set to expire or funds that are created between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020 will have the option for conversion into Rapid Rewards points. FYI, Rapid Reward points don’t expire.

What about flights booked with miles?

No change or cancellation fees, nor mileage redeposit fees.

Alaska

COVID-19 Info Page

  • Alaska Customer Service: 800-654-5669
  • Mileage Plan Customer Service: 800-654-5669

For tickets purchased on/before February 26, 2020:

  • If you purchase(d) a Saver fare for travel through December 31, 2020, you can cancel your trip without a fee and get credit for future travel, to be used within a year of ticket issuance.
  • If you purchased a nonrefundable First Class, main, or award ticket for travel through December 31, 2020, you may:
    • Change your trip without a fee, to be used within a year of ticket issuance. Fare difference may apply.
    • Cancel your trip without a fee and get credit for future travel, to be used within a year of ticket issuance.

For tickets purchased on/before February 27 to June 30, 2020:

  • If you purchased a Saver fare, you may cancel your trip without a fee and get credit for future travel, to be used within a year of ticket issuance.
  • If you purchased a nonrefundable First Class, main, or award ticket, you may:
    • Change your trip without a fee. Travel must be completed within a year of ticket issuance. Fare difference may apply.
    • Cancel your trip without a fee and get credit for future travel, to be used within a year of ticket issuance.

What about tickets booked with miles?

The policy outlined above applies to award travel as well. No redeposit fees.

I’m Flying A Different Airline

Check out One Mile at a Time‘s compilation of change and cancellation policies for most airlines and hotels, as well as a list of travel advisories for every country.

Want help with upcoming travel?

Fill out this form and member of our team will get back to you shortly.

Bottom Line

I will update this post periodically, as airlines are changing their policies to reflect progression of the pandemic and subsequent government action. Always refer to your airline of travel for the most up to date info.

Feel free to comment below with questions, or if you see something wrong or outdated.

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