Delta Eliminates Change Fees on Certain International Flights, Extends No-Fee Booking Window

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Update: On July 27, 2021, Delta issued a waiver to make all Basic Economy tickets changeable for flights through December 31, 2021.

Delta announced another wave of positive updates, all of which improve traveler flexibility. First, Delta is eliminating change fees and redeposit fees for all international flights originating in North America. Second, the airline is extending its existing waiver offering free changes and cancellations to all tickets purchased (including Basic Economy tickets) through April 30, 2021.

That's the same date through which Delta is committing to block middle seats.

Delta Eliminates Change and Redeposit Fees

Remember back in September, when Delta eliminated award change and redeposit fees for domestic awards? Well, now it's taking it one step further. Starting December 9, 2020, Delta will no longer impose any change fee for international tickets originating in North America.

If you're like us, this relatively vague statement might leave you with a few questions. To get a clearer picture, we reached out for some clarification. A Delta spokesperson shared these further details with AwardWallet:

  • In this context, “North America” explicitly means Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
  • This update affects both cash rates and award redemptions. That means eligible award tickets will no longer incur any award redeposit fees.
  • One notable exception remains: Basic economy tickets will still incur change and cancellation fees.
  • Platinum and Diamond Medallion members can continue to enjoy waived redeposit fees on all award bookings. But now this benefit only applies to award flights originating outside North America.
  • Cash tickets on joint-venture partners—like KLM, Air France, and Virgin Atlantic—also qualify for free changes.

In addition, Delta is eliminating its 72-hour deadline for canceling tickets for all award flights. This restriction effectively made Delta award tickets noncancelable within 72 hours of departure. Delta lifted this restriction from domestic awards in September.

In any case, this is a big win for all U.S.-based Delta flyers.

Delta One Business Suite A350

Delta Extends ‘No Change Fee' Waiver through April 30, 2021

The second facet of Delta's recent announcement encompasses ALL flights booked through early spring 2021. Delta's existing policy for no change fees was set to expire at the end of 2020. This was extended through March 30, 2021. Now, it has been extended one more month to cover bookings through April 30.

There are a couple of things to consider with this waiver extension:

  • It applies to ALL bookings made before April 30, including award redemptions and Basic Economy fares.
  • Canceling a cash booking results in a Delta eCredit valid for one year.
  • Award cancellations will not incur mileage redeposit fees.
  • If changing to a more expensive flight, you'll be responsible for paying the difference. If switching to a less expensive flight, you'll receive an eCredit for the price difference.

Good on Delta for preemptively extending this policy through the first part of 2021. Travel is still a long way from returning to “normal”, and increased flexibility goes a long way to assure travelers that they won't lose their money.

Which Delta Flights Have Change Fees

These policy changes can be quite confusing. Thankfully we were able to confirm with Delta that this is a summary of the current policies:

Flights ticketed by April 30, 2021

  • Cash tickets: No change fees — including on Basic Economy tickets
  • Award tickets: No change (reissue) or cancellation (redeposit) fees for all tickets — including on Basic Economy tickets

Flights ticketed after April 30, 2021

  • Cash tickets originating in North America: No change fees — except on Basic Economy tickets
  • Award tickets originating in North America: No change (reissue) or cancellation (redeposit) fees for all tickets — except on Basic Economy tickets
  • Award tickets originating outside North America: Change (reissue) or cancellation (redeposit) fees continue to apply — except for Platinum and Diamond Medallion elites

Final Thoughts

Delta has extended its policy of charging no change or cancellation fees on all flights ticketed by April 30, 2021. Moreover, the airline has announced it's permanently eliminating change fees for international bookings originating in North America.

Even with a vaccine on the way, the airline industry has a long way to go before it's back to pre-coronavirus levels. It's great to see that Delta recognizes that its customers need more flexibility to feel comfortable booking travel in the current environment. Extending free changes into 2021 is a smart move.

As far as eliminating change fees on international flights, it seems Delta isn't quite catching up to AA's lead—but we're certainly not complaining. The ability to change an international cash book without paying a $200 fee—or an international award without a $150 fee—is a significant improvement in my book.

Are you more likely to book travel with Delta thanks to this added flexibility?

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Comments

  • I recently had to change a Delta Flight to one day earlier and I was looking forward to any easy and free change. Some glitch (I learned it was an expiry date on a Delta Gift card used to book the flight.) made the online change impossible. So I used Direct Messaging on Twitter. The flight was changed quickly and efficiently by the team. So now that flight changes can be much more part of people’s plans due to these improvements, I’d highly recommend using these methods. I have no idea how long a phone call would have taken but it could have been a very different experience.

    • Yes, you almost need an evolving cheat sheet to keep track of how to best contact businesses. Some are much better by their own chat feature, others by phone, even others via social media and then all the rest, of course, with only poor experiences available. I’m very glad Delta has at least one quality, efficient route.

  • Delta is a good option, the best of all is eliminating the 72 hours requirement to change or cancel an award ticket.

  • Great changes, and I hope they are here to stay well after the pandemic is over.

  • The asterisk that is missing is “* Until they decide to re-implement them when they need more profits and get Wall St. pressure” Enjoy it while it lasts, but never assume this is going to be the norm forever.

  • I would hope these are permanent but once everyone is vaccinated and Covid goes away they’ll slowly reintroduce the fees as air travel returns to normal

  • They should do it for all international flights to align themselves with the other legacy airlines.

  • These changes will eventually be valid throughout 2021.

    I still remember people thought everything would be over by the past summer.

  • IGNACIO MEDINA says:

    This added flexibility should be the norm nowadays; Coronavirus is to keep impacting on our daily lives probably till mid-2021.

    • I think, till mid-2022, judging by how the crisis develops. People will just work around it till the virus becomes another flu variant / mutant.

  • Why only on certain flights? Just eliminate them all.

  • You have conflicting info here:
    “Second, the airline is extending its existing waiver offering free changes and cancellations to all tickets purchased (including Basic Economy tickets) through March 30, 2021.”
    “One notable exception remains: Basic economy tickets will still incur change and cancellation fees”
    Or I’m missing something?

    • It’s quite confusing. For tickets before March 30, 2021, all tickets (including Basic Economy) can be changed. But the general rule is that all tickets that originate in North America and are NOT Basic Economy can be changed without a fee.

      After back and forth with Delta, I finally confirmed this (which I’m now adding to the post):

      Ticketed by March 30, 2021:
      – Cash tickets: No change fees — including on Basic Economy tickets
      – Award tickets: No change (reissue) or cancellation (redeposit) fees for all tickets — including on Basic Economy tickets

      Ticketed after March 30, 2021:
      – Cash tickets (originating in North America): No change fees — except on Basic Economy tickets
      – Award tickets (originating in North America): No change (reissue) or cancellation (redeposit) fees for all tickets — except on Basic Economy tickets
      – Award tickets (originating outside North America): Change (reissue) or cancellation (redeposit) fees continue to apply — except for Platinum and Diamond Medallion elites

      • Thank you for explanation which confirms my experience from two days ago.
        I was able to cancel award ticket (ticketed 1/29/21) by speaking to agent. Couldn’t do it online.