Skip to content

Tips on How to Avoid Paying Airline Change Fees for Your Travel

Does your airline charge fees if you want to make changes to your flight? This is not an uncommon question because many travelers will have the same thought when booking their trips. So, it’s important to know which airline carriers in the United States hit you with flight change fees. Airline change fees are charged by most major airlines when you need to adjust a new date or time of your itinerary. You will need to pay a flat fee in addition to the fare difference for moving to a new flight. These fees can vary depending on the airline, destination, or even how far in advance you make the change. To book cheap flight tickets, check out the best online travel websites.

In this travel guide prepared by Treknova, we will provide you with some tips on how to avoid paying airline change fees.

U.S. Airlines that Charge Flight Change Fees

Of all U.S.-based airliners, Southwest Airlines is known for not charging change or cancellation fees, though you will have to make up for any difference in fares. However, you can also receive a credit if the fare goes down. The credit can only be used by the person whose name originally appeared on the ticket, though you change an award ticket that has dropped in price, surplus points are redeposited in the member’s account and can later be used for travel by anyone. But, you must cancel paid Wanna Get Away reservations at least 10 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time, otherwise the entire value of your ticket will become forfeit.

There are a couple US-based airline carriers that will charge fees when a passenger wishes to make changes to his/her itinerary. These airline carriers include the following:

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines charges a $125 change and cancellation fee on most tickets. However, this fee is waived for MVP Gold and Gold 75K members, and there’s no change fee for paid flights entirely within Alaska (although there is still a cancellation fee).

Also, same-day confirmed changes are just $50, or $25 for flights entirely in California or Alaska Airlines’ shuttle markets, and are also waived for MVP Golds and 75Ks.

Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air charges a $75 fee per person each way when you change or cancel your ticket. However, any changes or cancellations must be made within seven days of departure unless you’ve purchased their Trip Flex add-on. This add-on allows a one-time change or cancellation until one-hour prior to departure, though it can’t be added after the fact. You must commit to purchasing this protection at the time of booking.

American Airlines

American Airlines charges a $200 change or cancellation fee on most paid fares (excluding full-fare refundable tickets) for domestic flights. But, for international flights, this can be as high as $750 per passenger.

Also, same-day changes start at $75 for domestic and short-haul international flights in economy class. But, these same-day fees are waived for business- and first-class passengers on paid fares as well as Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro travelers.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Airlines charges a $200 change or cancellation fee for paid domestic flights (including to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). The fee is $500 for international flights.

Also, same-day confirmed and standby changes cost a $75 fee for non-elite passengers but are complimentary for Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion members. However, no changes are allowed to basic economy fares.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines does not charge change fees for flights more than 60 days from departure. However, there is a $79 change fee from 59 to 14 days from departure (this is $49 for flights purchased before Sep. 13, 2019). This can increase to a $119 fee within 14 days of departure, including for same-day changes.

Also, Frontier has no change fees if you purchase its add-on option called The Works. All of these change fees are in addition to any fare differential.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines charges a $200 change or cancellation fee for domestic flights within the U.S. and $50 to $300 for international flights. There is also a $30 change fee for flights within the Hawaiian islands. However, the airline carrier’s Main Cabin Basic tickets can’t be changed or canceled at all.

JetBlue Airways

The fees for changing or canceling your JetBlue flight vary depending on the price of your original ticket and the fare class you book. For example, JetBlue’s Blue Basic fares can’t be changed or canceled at all, while Blue Extra tickets have no fee for changes or cancellations.

For Blue and Blue Plus fares, the following fees apply:

  • A $75 fee per person is charged to change or cancel fares that cost under $100
  • A $100 fee per person is charged to change or cancel fares that cost between $100 and $149.99
  • A $150 fee per person is charged to change or cancel fares that cost between $150 and $199.99
  • A $200 fee per person is charged to change or cancel fares that cost over $200 and for all Mint tickets

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines charges a $90 fee for change or cancellation to paid bookings when the change is made online and $100 for those made over the phone or at the airport. However, a change or cancellation to a group booking will only set you back $50 per passenger.

In addition, you could purchase the optional Flight Flex add-on (which is also included in the carrier’s Bundle It Combo), as this allows you to make a one-time change to your flight without incurring a fee, though this must be added at the time of booking.

United Airlines

United Airlines charges a $200 fee to change or cancel domestic flights, and $400 for international itineraries. However, their Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for flight changes.

Also, same-day changes can be made for $75, but that fee is waived for MileagePlus Premier Gold, Platinum, and 1K members.

In the following section, we will provide you with some useful tips

Ways You Can Avoid Paying Airline Change Fees

Here are some proven ways that can help you make changes to your flight without the need for having to pay change fees.

Make use of a travel waiver

When airlines anticipate significant numbers of delays or cancellations during times, they issue travel waivers. Many airlines will adjust their operations, and they would rather provide flexibility for travelers in advance than try to accommodate you at the airport. The specifics of travel waivers vary by airline and the specific reason for the waiver, but they usually let you change or even cancel your flight(s) without incurring fees.

You can find travel waivers on the airline’s website. Generally, these will show at the top of the website and on-screen when check in for your flight. The airline may even e-mail you if you are eligible for a travel waiver. So, make sure to check your inbox before you travel as there might be a waiver in place for you.

Check for schedule changes

Another way to get out of paying change and cancellation fees is if your flight schedule changes after you book a ticket. For example, if your flight was set to depart at 1 pm but now departs at 2:30 pm, you may be eligible to change or cancel your flight for free. Often these schedule changes are sent via e-mail, but it is also important to frequently review your trips to identify these on your own.

Schedule changes happen more often than you think and are especially common if you book a flight far out from the date of travel. This is because airlines usually finalize flight schedules at the start of each season, and flights booked before these schedules are finalized are generally based on the airline’s current and historical schedule.

Remember the 24-hour rule

Airline carriers are required by law to offer free 24-hour holds or refunds within 24 hours of booking as long as the flight is more than seven days in the future. This can really come in handy if the price drops or you are still nailing down some travel details. This is also applicable to tickets booked through credit card sites like Amex Travel and the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Prefer booking one-way tickets to round-trip flights

Most airlines will charge the same total price regardless of whether you book two one-way tickets or a round-trip itinerary. But, the implications for change fees can be dramatically different. For example, if you book a $300 round-trip flight on American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or United and then need to change the first flight, you will incur a $200 change fee, since you’re making a change to the first. However, if you instead book two $150 one-way fares, you could simply discard the first flight and purchase a new one-way ticket with the same airline or another carrier, sacrificing only what you already paid for the first flight.

On the other hand, booking a round-trip flight could enable you to change dates on both ends of the trip for a single change fee. In general, it makes more sense to book flights as round-trip tickets when the total cost of the trip is significantly more than double the change fee. In some cases though, airlines may charge more for a one-way ticket than two round-trip tickets, so make sure to do your research before you book one way.

Earn elite status

One of the main benefits of having an elite status is that certain tiers with select carriers will waive change fees and mileage redeposit fees on award tickets. Some airlines like JetBlue and Alaska Airlines even offer these waivers on paid tickets. In addition, most airline loyalty programs also offer discounted or waived same-day flight changes for elite members on paid tickets. Finally, travelers with elite status are also more likely to be granted a waiver from a sympathetic airline representative, especially if you call your elite customer service number.

Consider your credit card coverage

Keep in mind the trip cancellation and interruption insurance that comes with many travel rewards or airline credit cards if you used them to pay for the booking. In certain scenarios, this protection may cover any change or cancellation fees you’d incur in addition to other eligible, nonrefundable expenses. For example, if you have a covered reason (such as jury duty or serious illness) for needing to cancel or change your trip and you booked with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’re eligible for up to $10,000 in reimbursement per trip.

If an emergency arises that allows you to invoke your credit card’s trip delay or cancellation coverage, then you’re probably worried about more than just airline change/cancellation fees, but it’s nice to know that these protections exist should you need them.

Pay change or cancellation fees only when you really have to

Last, but not least, if you book a flight and you need to cancel the trip later, you shouldn’t pay that cancellation fee any earlier than you really need to. The reason is you may never know when the airline might announce a schedule change, a delay, or a flight cancellation that will entitle you to change or cancel your trip without paying the fee.

Keep in mind that airline-initiated cancellations of service should result in a refund to your original form of payment, not a travel voucher if the airline can no longer provide the service you booked.

Conclusion – How to Avoid Paying Airline Change Fees for Your Travel

Having to change or cancel a flight is possible, however, depending on which airline you are flying with, you may have to pay additional fees. So, it is very beneficial to know all your options to avoid paying airline change fees whenever you deem possible. It may help you save hundreds of dollars depending on the flight you have booked.

Call Now