Delta Air Lines is getting rid of $200 international ticket change fees in hopes that the move will spur travel demand decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Delta, American and United in August dropped change fees for domestic flights. American last month expanded that to international travel, including long-haul routes.
Change and cancellation fees brought in $2.8 billion for U.S. carriers last year, according to the Department of Transportation. But with passenger traffic hovering around one-third of last year’s levels and once-lucrative international travel especially hard hit, airlines are scrambling to loosen policies that would encourage travelers to book.
“They’re gone for good,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday in an interview with CNBC when asked if the fees would return if business recovers. “We don’t want just another reason why customers are nervous about booking and making advanced travel plans.”
Exceptions include basic economy tickets, which are nonrefundable, though Delta has a fee waiver in place for all tickets through March, and travel that originates outside of North America. Passengers will also still have to pay any difference in fare.
Bastian said travel demand in December would likely be around one-third of last year’s levels, where it is currently hovering, but that sales should rise in the spring.