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Alaska Airlines Becomes Latest Carrier to Drop Change Fees

Alaska Airlines Becomes Latest Carrier to Drop Change Fees
Joe Cortez

After the sudden announcements by the three legacy carriers, Alaska Airlines will become the latest carrier to drop change fees for flights. The airline’s policy change is driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the latest industry trend. 

Alaska Airlines is joining the legacy carriers in removing change fees from their policies. In a press release one day after United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced their ending of change fees, the Seattle-based carrier says they will also abolish the practice of charging flyers to make itinerary changes.

Change Fee Sunset Applies to All Non-Saver Tickets

The change goes into effect immediately, and applies to all tickets above the “Saver” lowest discount category. Those flying on Saver tickets will continue to pay a $125 change fee. Previously, the airline offered free changes to those with Mileage Plan top elite tier status, or those who purchased refundable tickets.

“COVID has taught us that flexibility in travel is key,” Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Alaska, said in a press release. “As we evolve our approach to travel to include more than 100 safety actions, it’s important to give our guests flexibility when they book by eliminating change fees.”

Unlike the legacy airlines changes, Alaska’s policy applies to all domestic and international tickets. In addition, flyers who change to a lower priced itinerary will be able to recover their remaining balance as either a credit towards future travel or a refund, depending on the ticket rules.

However, like with other policies, it’s unclear how the policy will apply to their many international partners. Alaska has also not said how they changes will affect travel booked with their future Oneworld alliance associates. The carrier is scheduled to become part of the alliance by the end of 2020.

Change Fees Part of Larger COVID-19 response

According to the airline, the decision to end change fees are part of their larger response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The steps to make flyers feel more comfortable on airplanes include enhanced cleaning, blocking middle seats through the end of October 2020, and extending elite flyers’ Mileage Plan status through 2021.

The airline is also taking a hard-nosed stance on enforcing face covering policies on all flights. Alaska says “99.99 percent” of flyers have voluntarily worn a face mask throughout their flight, but have banned 75 “yellow carded” flyers who would not comply.

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. mrkymark

    September 3, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Well I wish I could say this is airlines being contrite but rather they are just responding and trying to survive. Once things start rolling again, tho it might be a while I must admit, the legacies will work together to bring back the fees again.

  2. sdsearch

    September 5, 2020 at 6:42 pm

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