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

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.

mogollon75 April 30, 2021

I'm done wearing masks on flights. Did it three times but I won't fly again until the mandate is dropped. I'm sorry that granny might live to 85 instead of 86 due to my actions, but c'est la vie....

AsiaTravel2019 April 28, 2021

Going to be avoiding Woke Airlines in the future....

bostontraveler March 30, 2021

Joe, the cases are rising again....

SamirD March 26, 2021

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

Iflymci March 26, 2021

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