Remember those warm-and-fuzzy, feel-good moments of the last year when the airlines went out of their way to accommodate passengers? Like when they stopped charging fees to change tickets?
Yeah, well, those halcyon days are coming to an end.
With COVID-19 numbers regressing for much of the country, and the vaccines appear to be doing their job, airline bookings are soaring again. In fact, Delta Air Lines last week became the last U.S. carrier to stop blocking middle seats.
Now U.S. airlines are looking to ditch the ticket flexibility they introduced last year when the pandemic first hit, according to the aviation blog Airline Geeks. Customers could purchase airfare without worrying about losing the value of the ticket or being charged cancellation or change fees.
But fees – baggage fees, change fees, seat selection fees, and more – are a huge revenue-generator for airlines and now the good times have come to an end.
Airline Geeks reported that In April, American Airlines became the first carrier to resume reservation restrictions when it made its basic economy fares non-changeable and non-refundable. However, the airline is still allowing changes for international flights originating outside North or South America through May 31 (with the exception of Asia).
Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have also tightened ticket flexibility. As of May 1, all three carriers have scrapped their travel waivers for basic economy tickets and will revert back to non-changeable and non-refundable fares. Therefore, customers that worry about a new wave of COVID-19 affecting future travel should avoid booking the ultra-budget fare.
JetBlue Airways is the only airline still offering flexibility, but that will expire May 31.
What does that mean to consumers? Well, you need to have an awareness when booking tickets, especially with the expected summer travel boom upcoming. Understand what kind of ticket you are buying, what’s refundable, what isn’t, and whether you can make changes without your wallet being dinged.
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