No more Change Fees!?

Do you remember back in the day – like 2019 (which feels like ages ago) – when we would have to pay change fees for any modifications to our travel arrangements? As it relates to how COVID-19 positively impacted the tourism industry and the future state of travel, NO CHANGE FEES is a huge win. For years and years, airlines, tour operators, and hotels across the world have made a killing by charging travelers change fees and quite frankly, taking advantage of the vulnerable. Previously, a family of five needing to change their flight from 12pm to 4pm, would have likely paid at least $1,000 to confirm seats on the new schedule, and this is assuming that the 12pm and 4pm flights were priced identical at the time of the change. Shame shame. (And that practice was typical across multiple airliners)

It is our hope and prayer that this mentality will spread throughout the entire tourism industry, but for now – major players like Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Jet Blue have publicly announced “no change fees”. This idea of “no change fees” means different things to different airliners and I’ll explain some key differences below, but in theory – this is a great thing. It encourages hesitant travelers to book with confidence and assurance in knowing that they have been awarded true flexibility if their travel plans were to change for any reason at all prior to travel.

The ability to book a flight, especially in the midst of a pandemic, can bring about lots of anxiety to travelers who have been burned in the past. Raise your hand if you ever lost money or had to spend additional money to make a change to an airline ticket? I am pretty sure that this is relatable to the vast majority of us. Below I will briefly cover a few of the major airline players and cover our interpretation of their “no change fees” policy. Buyers beware – “No change fees” is not all-inclusive statement - and not all "no change fees" policies are created equal, but the new policies are certainly a huge step in the right direction!

Delta – Not to be biased, but honestly, I just love Delta. This is not a paid advertisement, although I wish it were! But really, Delta has been amazing in helping us to navigate this pandemic and help clients (mostly large destination wedding groups) to cancel and modify their travel arrangements. “No change fees” to Delta means exactly that, and unlimited. If you were needing to modify dates, destinations, or flight times, Delta will happily confirm the modification for you and only charge you the difference in fare prices to make the change. And if you were to cancel completely outside of 24 hours of booking, you would be offered a travel voucher good for travel through December 2022, in some cases. Surely, you will want and need to FLY DELTA between now and 2022.

(See Delta’s fine print of their “No Change Fees” policy here)

American Airlines (AA)– We are a huge fan and also do lots of business with AA, especially when clients are flying from AA hub cities, which offer affordable, non-stop routes to some of our favorite Caribbean and Mexico destinations. AA has also announced that they are eliminating change fees for all fare classes, with the exception of the basic economy fare class, and this is for flights booked after August 2020. This elimination of change fees is for all domestic flights and "short-haul" international flights. While it seems that the policy is pretty robust, if you have concerns, definitely clarify with us or with customer care at the time that you book.

(See American Airlines’ fine print of their “No more change fees” policy here)

United Airlines (United) - United announced that they're "permanently getting rid of change fees for most Economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean". We got excited to see the word "permanently", but were left with confusion for the word "most". It appears that all other change fees are waived through December 31, 2020. Still a step in the right direction, but do call for clarification when in doubt.

(See United's fine print of their policy here)

Jet Blue- Jet Blue has announced that they're waiving change/cancel fees for customers with existing bookings made through February 28, 2021.

(See Jet Blue's fine print of their policy here)

Southwest Airline - In our minds, Southwest will always go down as the trailblazer for 'no change' fees and 'free luggage'. PERIOD. They're not new to this, they're true to this.

(See Southwest's fine print of their policy here)

Spirit Airlines (Spirit) - Do I still have your attention? Spirit has announced that they are "waiving cancellation fees for guests whose travel plans are impacted by COVID-19", by providing a reservation credit for the full purchase price.

(See Spirit's fine print of their policy here)

Importance of Travel Protection Insurance – No matter which airline you fly, purchasing travel protection insurance is always a good thing. It provides travelers with traveling medical insurance, lost luggage insurance, and in most cases – cash back protection against unforeseen cancellations. If you rather not read the fine print, purchase travel insurance and receive the greatest gift of all – peace of mind. We are all about bringing tourism back, and supporting the airline industry, but first and foremost – Transparency for each of our clients is key.

Just Book It Travel is a premier travel agency specializing in international group trips, destination weddings, and vow renewals. We pride ourselves in streamlining and automating group travel, which can become a tedious task for group hosts. Here is our motto – Set the date, pick a destination, send us a list of email addresses of those invited, and be done! We take the load from our hosts by creating complementary private travel webpages, sending virtual e-invitations, creating customized competitive itineraries, and setting up flexible payment arrangements for each guest, all while keeping our host(s) informed and updated. Each group has a personal travel planner and destination specialist, at no cost. If you’re considering a COVID-friendly group getaway, we look forward to helping you plan! The memories created on international group trips last forever and a lifetime😊

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