Airlines That Still Allow Free Changes on Award Bookings Airlines That Still Allow Free Changes on Award Bookings

Airlines That Still Allow Free Changes on Award Bookings

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many airlines began allowing free changes on award bookings and cash tickets. Some of them have friendlier policies than others. Moreover, some of these policies are permanent, while others are temporary.

Now's a great time to revisit these policies, as many of them are changing as we near the two-year mark of the pandemic. Here's a look at how to avoid change fees on your award bookings.

Change Fee vs. Cancellation Fee

There are two different types of fees that you will see kicked around with airline tickets. These are change fees and cancellation fees. Put simply, “change fees” are for when you change the ticket — the date of travel, cities in the itinerary, what class of service you're flying in, etc. “Cancellation fees” are for when you cancel the ticket, full stop.

These two fees can apply very differently according to several factors:

  • Your status with the airline
  • Who initiated the change/cancellation (you or the airline)
  • Covered reasons — such as military obligations, natural disasters, death in your family, etc.
  • Amount of time since booking
  • How far in advance you're changing (ahead of the time of departure)
  • Travel waivers in effect

Be sure to understand these before booking. When all else fails, paying with a credit card that offers good protections for trip cancellation and trip interruption.

In this article, we are considering the first type of fee: which airlines allow free changes on award bookings?

An Air Canada plane sits on the runway

Policies by Airline

The following is the latest information from each airline regarding changes to award bookings.

Air France / KLM Flying Blue

There is an FAQ here, but the gist is that award bookings have a fee waiver. You can change to a new date without any fees, as long as you fly in the same cabin.

If you want to change your routing, cabin, or fly on a different airline, the value of your original booking will be applied to the new flights. If there is a fare difference, you will have to pay it.

Make sure to read the details. The Flying Blue information page starts with “reward tickets are changeable without a fee and refundable from now on,” but there are terms that make this not as great as it sounds at first.

Alaska Airlines

All award tickets can be changed or canceled for free.

In September 2020, Alaska announced it was permanently removing change and cancellation fees. To be eligible, you must change or cancel before departure. If you are a “no show,” this perk doesn't apply.

Fare differences will apply when you change a ticket — meaning you get credit for switching to a lower-priced ticket or pay more when changing to a higher-priced itinerary. Saver fares — Alaska's term for basic economy cash tickets — cannot be changed or canceled.

Same-day confirmed changes are $50. However, if the flights are entirely in California or Alaska Airlines' shuttle markets, the fee is $25. These fees are waived for MVP Gold and higher-status members. You do not have to pay a fare difference for these changes.

Allegiant Air

Changes and cancellations are possible via an add-on to your reservation.

Low-cost carrier Allegiant charges per person and per segment to change or cancel a ticket — up to $75 in fees. However, if you add Trip Flex to your ticket at the time of booking, you can make a one-time change or cancellation without fees. You must add it at the time of booking and make your changes at least one hour before departure.

American Airlines

As of November 2020, American Airlines removed fees for changing and canceling award bookings. The AA website says:

If your travel plans change, you can contact Reservations to change your flight award. There is no fee to make a change. Keep in mind, you still need to redeem miles for any award price difference when making a change.

While you may not make changes to a trip that includes a Web Special award, you can cancel it and reinstate your miles at no charge.

For those who need it, here's how to cancel an AAdvantage award booking online.

ANA

Free changes — but not cancellations — on your award bookings.

While you will pay to cancel award bookings with ANA Mileage Club (a measly 3,000 miles), changes are free. Except for complex itineraries, you should be able to change the reservation in your online account.

Note that changes to award itineraries must follow a list of rules, which you can read here.

Delta Air Lines

You can make free changes on award bookings that originate in North America. Free changes for flights that start in international destinations are allowed if they were booked on or before March 30, 2021.

Delta offers free changes and cancellations on award bookings as long as your itinerary originates in North America. This does not include Basic Economy flights, though. Those are only covered if they fall under a current change fee waiver.

Emirates Skywards

No or minimal fees, depending on your desired changes.

Nearly all award bookings are covered with free changes, extensions of expiration date, and generous conditions for date/destination changes, as well as flexibility in canceling. You can change your destination to another airport in the same region as your original booking without fees, which offers some great opportunities for booking a ticket to a cheaper destination and then changing to a more expensive locale.

Find the specific terms for your booking date here.

Frontier Airlines

You can make free changes more than 60 days out.

There are no change fees (just fare difference) if you change your booking more than 60 days in advance. From 59 days down to 7 days before your flight, there's a $49 change fee. Within 6 days of departure, that fee goes up to $79. The details can be found here, and note that these fees were less on past bookings, so check the chart for the date you originally reserved your flight.

There's also an add-on called “The Works”. Adding this to your itinerary enables free changes and full refundability.

Hawaiian Airlines

Main Cabin and premium fares can be changed or canceled without fees.

If you have a ticket booked in Main Cabin or higher (meaning Main Cabin Basic is excluded), you can change or cancel for free. Fare differences, if any, will apply. There are travel waiver periods that will cover some Main Cabin Basic awards. Details are here.

Rear half of JetBlue planes sitting at an airport; JetBlue is an airline that doesn't allow free changes on award bookings

JetBlue

It's not possible to change TrueBlue award redemption bookings. You'll have to cancel and then make a new booking.

However, you can make same-day changes to a different flight for $75 (waived for Mosaic status members).

Korean SKYPASS

Changes are only free on domestic award itineraries.

You will pay fees to change or cancel nearly all international itineraries — both cash and award bookings. The exceptions to this are international awards canceled (not changed) within 24 hours of booking or 90+ days before departure.

Domestic itineraries paid with cash have fees, while domestic award bookings have no change fees. The table of fees is here.

Qantas

Free changes and cancellations on award bookings; deadline depends on the itinerary.

You can make free changes to itineraries within Australia for travel through September 30, 2022. For international itineraries, book by September 30, 2022, and make free changes through the end of 2022.

Fees for changes and cancellations on these itineraries are waived, and the details are here.

Southwest Airlines

Free changes on all award bookings.

Famous for offering free changes on cash tickets and award bookings, the only thing you'll pay is applicable fare differences. The same is true in reverse: if you change to a cheaper fare, you'll receive a credit. If you booked using miles, the miles go back into your account like normal. However, if you paid cash, you'll receive a credit in the passenger's name, which can't be used by anyone else.

You need to change or cancel at least 10 minutes before departure if your fare type is Wanna Get Away. These fares are lost if you are a “no show”, but other fare types will automatically be converted to credits.

Spirit Airlines

Free changes on cash and award bookings 60+ days in advance.

Spirit Airlines uses a tiered system for fees (listed here), based on how much time remains until departure.

  • 60+ days until departure: free
  • 7-59 days until departure: $59
  • 3-6 days until departure: $79
  • 0-2 days until departure: $99

If you have elite status, you can have free same-day changes to get on the standby list for an earlier flight. Spirit also allows free cancelations within 24 hours of your original booking.

United Airlines

Free changes on award itineraries originating in the U.S. plus international awards with 31+ days' notice.

United eliminated fees for itineraries originating in the U.S., except for basic economy fares. There are no fees to change award tickets within or from the U.S., no matter how many days it is until your flight. For foreign city origins, you need to change or cancel your award 31+ days in advance to not pay fees.

Basic Economy fee waivers may apply to some dates/tickets. The full details are here.

[Booking Closed] Air Canada Aeroplan

The important date to keep in mind is July 5, 2022.

If you book before this, you have added flexibility. For flights booked by July 5, 2022, you have unlimited changes without fees until that date. As long as you book by this magic date, you also get one free change after the magic date.

For bookings from July 6, 2022 and onward, you will pay the normal change & cancellation fees associated with your status and ticket type.

Bookings made before September 30, 2021, have no cancellation fee. If you booked after that, fees apply. However, those fees are waived for the following booking classes: Economy Latitude, Premium Economy Flexible, and Business/First Class Flexible. Also, fees are waived for Aeroplan Super Elite Status members.

Air Canada lays out the rules and fees for changes and cancellations here.

[Booking Closed] British Airways

Free changes on award bookings for flights through September 30, 2022 if you booked by June 7, 2022. You can change the dates or change the itinerary on flights through September 30, 2022. If you make changes, you will play applicable fare differences but no fees.

Details are available here.

[Booking Closed] Singapore KrisFlyer

Make unlimited free changes through July 31, 2022, then only one change after that.

Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer program is offering unlimited free changes to award bookings through July 31, 2022. After that, you can make one change for free, then you will pay for any additional changes.

You can make changes to dates and itineraries, but all changes must be done before the date of departure or within one year of booking — whichever is earlier. Fare differences will apply.

[Booking Closed] Virgin Atlantic

Virgin's policy covers flights booked between February 16, 2022 and June 23, 2022 for travel through August 31, 2022. You can make unlimited changes to dates, destinations, and even one name change — all without a change fee.

Fare differences will apply, and your new travel must be complete by December 31, 2023. You also must make changes before your original date of travel.

A Virgin Atlantic plane taking off

The Bottom Line

With ongoing uncertainties related to travel, changing and canceling tickets is not uncommon. Luckily, numerous airlines are offering free changes to award bookings. Some policies are more generous than others, so be sure to understand the specifics of your ticket before confirming. Things like origin point, date of travel, your elite status, the cabin of travel, and other factors can change the fee waivers applicable to your ticket.

We at AwardWallet are working hard to keep this list up-to-date. If you see something that's no longer accurate, please let us know in the comments below and we will update the post.

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Comments

  • Fernando franchini says:

    Que bueno que se permita está opción.

  • tassojunior says:

    TAP Portugal is becoming important, (as are Turkish, Play, Icelandic, SAS, etc) to Europe. It’s harder to find their policies. I think British’s traditional fee was $50 for redeposit but lately it’s been the tax (usually $5.60) if lesser.

  • I wish that Westjet or Aeromexico were offering this no fee option. An Air Canada flight on the same route that I need to take is double the price.

  • This is good to know! I was surprised to learn that JetBlue doesn’t allow changes on a mileage ticket! When booking with points and miles this is something to always keep in mind. I like that quite a few I am looking to travel have free changes. I think that even if an airline has a change fee I would still book with them but probably a lot closer to my date of travel.

  • Linda Camusso says:

    Bien por las aerolíneas que permiten cambios en los pasajes con millas!

  • Carlos Levin says:

    Es una muy buena noticia poder cambiar pasajes de premio sin penalidad en American Airlines.

  • Great summary. What are the change and cancellation policies and fees for award tickets booked through Aeromexico Club Premier? I have had a hard time deciphering the policies posted on their website. Thank you.

  • Nice summary. Does the Alaska free change/cancel policy apply to partner award tickets too? Thanks!

    • Ryan Smith says:

      John, the policies are for the airline you are booking with. If you are booking with Alaska, it should apply. Always ask when booking to make sure you know before confirming/paying, though–especially with partner bookings.

  • hopefully flexibility becomes the “new normal”, in the workplace and in travel.

  • It’s great to know I can redeem my rewards and not have to pay an extra fee or lose my rewards for making a change.

  • As I read United’s current policy, I think Jonathan is correct for cancellation (versus change) of United award tickets. In other words, while you can change your award ticket at any time with no fee, but if you want to cancel and have your miles redeposited, that must be done 31 day or more prior to departure to avoid paying a fee of $125.

    • Pat – correct. This article is about changes to award bookings, not cancellations, which is why we said “free changes” in the United section of the article.

  • The option for a free first change is useful, however if the funds are put in a travel bank then the free cancellation option is actually better in terms of flexibility.

  • Does United’s policy apply to award bookings? Thks

  • I’ve had to cancel deeply discounted fares on both United and JetBlue with no issues. I’ve received the travel credits instantly and have reapplied them to new itineraries.

  • I hope this flexibility becomes part of “the new normal”

  • Alaska saver fares only allow changes/cancellations before 24 hrs, otherwise you risk losing everything

  • Does Singapore’s policy apply only to award bookings on Singapore metal or to bookings on Singapore partners?

    • Keith – it applies to partners also. Remember that they charge a partner award fee, which you won’t get back if you cancel a ticket. I just went through this with them about 2 weeks ago and got my taxes/miles back, minus the partner award fee.

  • I believe that all airlines should allow for changing and canceling tickets more fluidly during these most difficult times.

  • Many of the deadlines listed are way too premature.

  • I mostly use Southwest, so nothing really changed for us.

  • Last night I had to cancel a one-way United Mileage Plus award booking from Jamaica to Ecuador. As a non-US booking, United tried to charge me $150 to cancel online. I contacted the call center to ask for the wee to be waived. The agent refused. I hung up and called again, and the next agent canceled my booking, redeposited the miles, offered a refund, and waived the fee.

  • I wonder when this will end – it seems inevitable that airlines will go back to their anti-consumer ways

  • fernando pojaghi says:

    Interesante nota. Algo que muchas veces no tenemos en cuenta y resulta una tela de araña para la mayoría de los usuarios, es qué pasa cuando se compra el pasaje a través de una agencia, o sea no en forma directa con la aerolíneas. La sensación es que cada agencia actúa en forma diferencial y arbitraria. En lo personal he perdido dos pasajes, Buenos Aires roma y roma hurghada. En algunos casos no he logrado ni la devolución de los hoteles. Seria interesante tener un poco mas clara como funciona el vínculo de la aerolíneas con la agencia, ¿por que hay casos en que si se contrato el pasaje con la aerolíneas ante la cancelación del vuelo se devuelve el costo del pasaje y el mismo pasaje contratado con una agencia se pierde?. La mayoría de las agencia on line en Argentina han abusado de sus clientes y los vericuetos legales son imposible de desentrañar. Gracias

  • All airlines should allow changes on award tickets for hard earned or credit card bonus earned points!

  • Looks like Delta is lagging behind the pack in making their no change or cancellation fee policy permanent….c’mon Delta time to catch up with AA, UA and even AK and make those change fees disappear for good!

  • That is incorrect with regard to United. See here:

    https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/mileageplus/awards/travel/ticketing.html

    As per policy, it’s only free for changing or canceling 31 or more days prior to departure unless you are Premier 1K status.

    • Jonathan – I believe you are looking at the bottom part of the chart you linked to. That part is for travel originating outside the U.S. / North America. As we stated (and the chart you linked also shows), “There are no fees to change award tickets within the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, as well as from the U.S. to international destinations. You will have to pay any fare difference, if applicable.”

  • I can’t see Aerolineas Argentinas in that list.
    Do you consider this company in the analysis?
    Thanks.