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Is it Cheaper to Cancel a Flight or Change It? 9 Top Airline Change/Cancel Policies & Fees

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With everything that’s going on in the world concerning the coronavirus, you may have an upcoming vacation that you are considering canceling or postponing.

My upcoming trip to Yosemite in May is one of them. Fortunately, I booked through Southwest and am familiar with their change/cancel process.

But some of you may be booked with an airline you aren’t super familiar with.

You may be wondering, is it cheaper to cancel a flight or change it.

In this post, I will cover the flight change, cancellation, and refund policies for Southwest, Delta, United, American, Frontier, Allegiant, and JetBlue Airlines.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through a link, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read full disclosure here.

is it cheaper to cancel a flight or change it

Is it cheaper to cancel a flight or change it? This post will cover flight cancel/change policies & fees of 9 commonly used US airlines.

Southwest Airlines

southwest airplane

Canceling or Changing a Southwest Flight

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Southwest Airlines never charges Customers a fee to change or cancel their flight. If a Customer’s plans change, or they decide they no longer want to travel, the funds used to pay for their flight can be applied to future travel – as long as they cancel their flight at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. The funds are valid for future travel up to one year from the original purchase date and must be used by the individual named on the ticket.

Source: https://www.southwest.com/Coronavirus/

When changing a flight, if you change to a flight that is more expensive, you will have to pay the difference in airfare.

If you cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking, you will receive a full refund in the original form of payment.

Note: You can only change a Southwest flight one time. To avoid being unable to change your flight again, cancel your flight(s) then rebook.

All of this is very easy to do online and I have done it several times. I usually book with points and when I cancel a Southwest flight booked with points, they are back in my account within a day.

NEW Southwest Coronavirus Update

As Southwest Airlines has stated above, cancelled airfare can be used towards a future flight if it’s within one year of the original purchase.

As of March 20th, funds that expire(d) March 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020 will now expire June 30, 2021.

Also, any flights cancelled between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020, those funds will not expire until June 30, 2021.

Southwest seems to understand that this coronavirus is not going away any time soon and is making accommodations accordingly for their customers. This is one of the reasons Southwest is my favorite airline!


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Delta Airlines

delta airplane

Canceling a Delta Flight

If canceled within 24 hours of booking, there is no fee to cancel your flight, even if you bought a nonrefundable ticket.

When canceling a nonrefundable ticket >24 hours of booking, fees start at $200. The remaining value of the ticket will be available as an eCredit that must be used within 1 year from when the ticket was issued.

There is no cancelation fee for canceling a refundable ticket. The refund will be in the form of the original payment.

Click here for instructions on how to cancel refundable and nonrefundable flights on Delta.

Changing a Delta Flight

Refundable and nonrefundable tickets must be changed within 24 hours of departure of the original flight.

For a nonrefundable ticket, fees start at $200-$500 and you must pay the difference in airfare.

When changing Delta flights on a refundable ticket, there is no change fee, but you must still pay the cost difference of airfare.

Delta Award Tickets must be changed within 72 hours of departure of the original flight. The change fee for Award flights is $150.

See this Delta page for step-by-step instructions on changing refundable, nonrefundable, and award tickets.

Delta Same-Day Flight Changes

Delta allows some same-day flight changes for domestic flights. Same-day means you are changing your flight within 24 hours of departure of the original flight.

The fee is $75 whether you fly confirmed seat or standby. Basic Economy tickets are not allowed same-day flight changes. Some refundable flights are not charged this fee.

If flying standby, the fee is only charged if you are able to board the new flight.

Delta does not allow changing of an original connecting flight to a nonstop flight.

This fee is waived for Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion Members.

Click here for more info on changing a same-day Delta flight.

American Airlines

american airlines plane in flight

Canceling an American Airlines Ticket

Canceling refundable and nonrefundable tickets will receive a full refund if booked in the past 24 hours and it was booked >2 days prior to departure. The cancelation will be refunded in the original payment form.

Nonrefundable tickets can only be refunded if canceled within 24 hours of booking.

Depending on fare rules, a nonrefundable ticket may be able to be used for future travel if the future trip begins within 1 year from the issue date of the original ticket. Refundable tickets are totally refundable in the original form of payment.

A full refund is available to refundable tickets in the original form of payment.

Click here to request an American Airlines refund.

Changing an American Airlines Flight

For a nonrefundable domestic flight, changing your flight will cost you around $200.

A refundable flight can be changed without a fee, but you must pay the difference in airfare.

Click here to find your reservation. Once that is pulled up, click on the “Change Trip” option to see the options available for your ticket.

United Airlines

united airplane flying

Canceling a United Airlines Flight

If you booked a United flight within the past 24 hours and is >1 week prior to departure, ticket MAY be eligible to have change or cancellation fees waived. Click here to request a refund.

Most United tickets are nonrefundable. If canceling a nonrefundable flight, the value of the ticket can be applied towards a new ticket (if used within 1 year of original ticket purchase) for a fee.

If canceling an award ticket, click here for information on service fees.

Changing a United Airlines Flight

When changing a United flight, fees can vary and some tickets are not able to be changed. Their website is not straight forward with this information.

Via their mobile app or website, you can log in to your itinerary and click Change Flight.” This will show you if you are eligible to change flights, if there is a change fee, and the airfare difference between the flights.

You cannot change Basic Economy flights but you can cancel within 24 hours of booking if >1 week prior to departure.

Frontier Airlines

frontier airlines plane flying

Canceling a Frontier Flight

Frontier has what is called the “WORKS” that can be purchased at initial booking. The WORKS allows you a full refund (includes price of the WORKS), a great plane seat, 1 free carry-on, and 1 free checked bag.

Without the WORKS, carry-on and checked bags are nonrefundable.

You will receive a full refund if purchased within the past 24 hours and the flight is >7 days from departure.

You can cancel your flight with Frontier and retain the value of your booking as a travel credit (for 90 days) if you cancel before your flight departs.

Click here to request a refund.

Changing a Frontier Flight

FRONTIER Miles members can fly standby on an earlier or later flight on the day of the original flight for no fee.

Change/Cancel Fees Per Passenger:

If purchased within the last 6 months:

  • $0 if changed/canceled within 60 days of departure
  • $79 if changed/canceled 14-59 days prior to departure
  • $119 if changed/canceled within 13 days of departure.

If purchased greater than 6 months ago:

  • $0 if changed/canceled within 60 days of departure
  • $49 if changed/canceled 14-59 days prior to departure
  • $119 if changed/canceled within 13 days of departure.

NEW Frontier Coronavirus Accommodations

As of Friday, March 13th, Frontier has made special accommodations for COVID-19 for those who purchased your flight prior to March 10th, 2020 and your travel dates are between March 10, 2020 and April 30, 2020.  You can cancel your flight and retain the value of your ticket for future travel (for 90 days) by submitting this form and selecting “COVID-19” in the dropdown box.

Following the same stipulations as above, customers can choose a one-time CHANGE with no fee for changing. If the flight you changed to is more expensive, you must pay the difference in airfare.

Click here to request a cancelation due to COVID-19.

Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant offers what is called “Trip Flex.” This will allow you to avoid most cancellation and flight change charges. It is currently $8-$20 per person, per flight.

Canceling an Allegiant Flight

Flights canceled within 24 hours of booking (with departure at least 7 days away) will get a full refund in the original form of payment.

Cancellations after 24 hours of booking will receive a credit voucher that can be used towards future travel (travel must be COMPLETED within a year of the initial booking). The amount of the voucher depends on differences in fare, how far in advance the trip is, and if you purchased travel protection at booking. You will able to see the total amount before finalizing any changes.

If you purchased Trip Flex, you are not charged a cancellation fee. Without Trip Flex, the cancellation/flight change fee is $75. With Trip Flex, you can cancel up to 1 hour prior to the departure.

Booking fees and carrier charges are nonrefundable, regardless of whether you purchased Trip Flex.

Changing an Allegiant Flight

Changes to Allegiant flights must be complete within 7 days of departure. There is a change fee of $75 per person and you must pay the fare difference.

See their Terms & Conditions page for more information.


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Alaska Airlines

airplane flying through sky

Changing and Cancelling an Alaska Airlines Flight

You can receive a full refund if you cancel your Alaska flight within 24 hours of purchase.

Saver fares are not eligible for flight changes or cancellations.

Most nonrefundable tickets can be canceled for a credit certificate. A service fee will be applied and you must pay the difference in airfare.

If you have purchased a refundable coach or first-class ticket, you can change your flight without a fee on their website.

Flight changes are allowed for Main Fare and First Class tickets.

Change/cancellation fees can vary based on state, seat type, & other things. Typically, you will be charged $125 if you cancel a flight, and changing a flight on the same day will cost you about $50.

Click here for a full table of Alaska Airline flight change/cancellation fees.

JetBlue Airlines

jetblue airplane flying

Changing or Canceling a JetBlue Flight

You can receive a free cancellation and full refund if canceled within 24 hours of booking and if the departure is at least 7 days away.

For Blue Basic tickets, changes or cancellations are not permitted.

Blue, Blue Plus, and Mint tickets are eligible for changes/cancelations for a fee, plus the change in airfare.

Blue Extra, Blue Refundable, Blue Plus Refundable, Blue Extra Refundable, and Mint Refundable are eligible for a cancellation/changes without a fee, but you must pay for any change in airfare.

JetBlue Change/Cancellation Fees

Blue/Blue Plus Tickets:

  • Airfares < $99.99: a cancellation/change fee of $75 will be applied
  • Airfares $99.99 to $149.99: a fee of $100 will be applied
  • Airfares $150 to $199: a charge of $150 will be applied
  • Airfares >$200: the change/cancellation price is $200.

Mint Tickets: $200 change/cancellation fee

Blue Extra: no fee

Same-Day change fee is $75 per person

Nonrefundable tickets can be canceled and a credit received to be used towards future travel (must travel within 1 year of the original purchase date).

See their flight changes, cancellations, and standby page for more details.

Spirit Airlines

Cancelling a Spirit Airlines Flight

Cancellation is free if made within 24 hours of booking and flight departure is greater than 7 days out.

Otherwise, if you change or cancel your flight via their website, there is a fee of $90.

Telephone or airport modifications/cancellations will be charged a $100 fee. When changing flights, you must pay the fare difference. If the new flight is less than the previous one, Spirit will give you the remaining balance to use as a travel credit within the next 60 days.

So, is it cheaper to cancel a flight or change it? As you saw, it all depends on the airline.

Hopefully this post provided you with information regarding cancelling or changing your flight. And it may help you decide who to book a flight with in the future, since some airlines can be quite unforgiving of a change in plans.

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