Airlines Nix Change Fees

You may still pay a change fee for tickets in basic economy, though.

air passenger stows bags photo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now that major U.S. airlines have announced they are permanently waiving change fees for domestic flights, should you book a trip weeks or months from now, knowing that you can rebook without paying a $200 penalty?

Airfares have been enticingly low since the pandemic derailed travel back in March. The average domestic airfare ticket for departure between now and the end of 2020 was recently $160, which is down 36% compared with a year ago, says Hayley Berg, economist for Hopper, the flight-tracking app. Berg anticipates that fares will stay down for some time.

“The likelihood of the airlines reneging on this announcement in the next five years is low,” says Scott Keyes, founder of ScottsCheapFlights.com (opens in new tab). But you may still pay a change fee for tickets in basic economy. And for the most part, change fees still apply for international flights. American is waiving change fees to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. United is waiving change fees to international destinations through December 31, and to Mexico and the Caribbean after that.

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Emma Patch
Staff Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Emma Patch joined Kiplinger in 2020. She previously interned for Kiplinger's Retirement Report and before that, for a boutique investment firm in New York City. She served as editor-at-large and features editor for Middlebury College's student newspaper, The Campus. She specializes in travel, student debt and a number of other personal finance topics. Born in London, Emma grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Washington, D.C.