What to Expect if You’re Flying in 2021

Policies enacted by the airlines in 2020 may change air travel for the long haul.

photo of flier with mask
(Image credit: iStockphoto.com)

At a time when everything travel-related seems to be up in the air except for airplanes, at least fliers have the ability to stay flexible. The major airlines have permanently waived change fees for all but the cheapest flights within the U.S. and to Mexico and the Caribbean. And although the waived-fee policies aren’t set in stone for basic-economy or international bookings, for now some airlines are extending the policy to those tickets, too.

For example, Delta Airlines has promised “Peace-of-Mind Booking” through early spring, waiving change fees on all flights, including international flights, booked before March 31. United is waiving change fees for international travel originating in the U.S., but the airline has stopped waiving change fees for basic-economy flights. Similarly, American Airlines is waiving all change fees for first-class, business-class, premium-economy and main-cabin fares for all domestic flights, as well as flights to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, as long as the ticket was issued on or after August 31, 2020. American is also extending its no-change-fee policy to basic-economy fares purchased on or before January 31.

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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.