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As More Americans Get Vaccinated, Airlines Start Dropping Pandemic-Specific Rules

As More Americans Get Vaccinated, Airlines Start Dropping Pandemic-Specific Rules
Joe Cortez

With COVID-19 vaccinations being distributed in wider numbers, airlines are slowly starting to go back to pre-pandemic rules. Although face coverings will be here to stay for a while, boarding rules and change fees are slowly starting to come back to certain carriers.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. However, as more people get their first shots, some airline industry traditions are coming back. Airlines are slowly returning to their old boarding policies, while quietly re-adding change fees to certain tickets.

Change Fees Back for Basic Economy, While Boarding Goes Back to Normal

The most immediate change flyers may see is the return to normal boarding operations. USA Today reports Southwest Airlines resumed 30-person boarding operations on March 15, 2021, after their “Southwest Promise” only allowed 15 to get on an airplane at a time.

The Dallas-based carrier isn’t the only one going back to their old ways. JetBlue, which was boarding flyers from back-to-front, is going back to their regular boarding procedures starting at the beginning of March.

For flyers who book the cheapest flights in the Basic Economy section, the generous benefit of allowing changes on itineraries will also come to an end. According to Travel Weekly, the majority of major airlines will go back to assessing fees on Basic Economy fares by April 1, 2021. Your fees will vary based on which airline you fly: ultra-low-cost-carriers Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines charged between $39 and $90 for changes. The legacy carriers – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – will ban all changes to Basic Economy Tickets starting in the beginning of April.

There will be case-by-case allowances for certain flyers who may have contracted the novel Coronavirus prior to departure. Both American and Hawaiian told Travel Weekly they would allow changes for those who either have a confirmed case of COVID-19, or are displaying symptoms.

With More Vaccines in Arms, Daily Death Toll Declining

As vaccination efforts continue, there is hope that air travel can return to some semblance of normal before the end of 2021. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), new COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. have trended downward since January 2021, while over 130 million doses of vaccines have been administered across the country.

View Comments (7)


  1. DasApache47

    March 24, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Hello, I am trying to plan a trip within the next couple of days to Hawaii from Kansas. I have the following resources at my disposal, how should I use them?

    100,000 Marriott Points
    180,000 Hilton Points (Diamond Status)
    75,000 AMEX Points

    2 Hilton Annual Night Credits (I want to use at the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria)

    Combined $500 hilton resort credit between me and p2 + $200 resort credit at certain resorts. (Aspire)

    Centurion lounge access (Id like to make use of this)

    Currently AMEX has a 40% points transfer bonus to Hilton that I am aware of.

    I’m familiar with how to book Hilton nights with those resources, but not sure how to use points for flights.

    Should I transfer points from AMEX to Hilton to airlines?

    Or should I transfer AMEX points directly to an airline?

    Thank you for reading and have a good evening ✌️

  2. Ilikeairlinefood

    March 25, 2021 at 8:51 am

    You can probably get two nights mid week nights at a Marriott with 100K points. However, if you’re going in the next week, the point allocation is usually gone. Grab what you can get now!

  3. deadmoneywalking

    March 25, 2021 at 11:40 am

    And don’t even ask about the middle seat

  4. health1au

    March 26, 2021 at 6:31 am

    “Although face coverings will be here to stay for a while”

    Well I guess you could call “forever” a while.

  5. Iflymci

    March 26, 2021 at 6:36 am

    Your only option out of Kansas is Wichita. Good luck with that.

  6. SamirD

    March 26, 2021 at 11:01 am

    I’ll be flying whoever keeps the covid zombies away from me the longest. I switched all my flying to Delta from other carriers.

  7. bostontraveler

    March 30, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Joe, the cases are rising again….

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