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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.

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.

Note: This post was updated January 16, 2021 with the most recent airline policies.

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

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Southwest.

They do not charge a fee to cancel or change your flight. Differences in fare may apply though.

If the new flight costs less, they will reimburse you or hold it for future use! Note that if held for future use, it will have an expiration date.

No matter which flight you choose (refundable or nonrefundable), if you cancel your flight, those funds can be applied for future travel.

You can make changes to your flight up to 10 minutes before boarding, even if you have already checked in.

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.

Southwest Coronavirus Update

According to Southwest, cancelled airfare can be used towards a future flight if it’s within one year of the original purchase.

UPDATE:

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!

For any other questions you may have about Southwest, refer to their FAQ page.


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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

UPDATE:

Delta is waiving change fees for travel impacted by COVID-19. Flight departing March 2020 through March 2021 and all tickets purchased March 1, 2020 through March 30, 2021 are eligible for the fee waive.

If you’re eligible for a waiver, you can move your travel dates and even change destinations. The unused ticket will be applied toward your new flight. Fare differences may apply. If the new fare is lower, you will receive an eCredit for the difference. If the new fare is higher, you are responsible to pay the difference.

For flights purchased in 2021: Delta has eliminated change fees and Award redeposit fees permanently for tickets traveling from North America to anywhere in the world (excluding Basic Economy fares).  Fare difference will apply.

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

Delta Award Tickets can now be changed any time prior to departure.

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. Some refundable flights are not charged this fee.

Basic Economy tickets are not allowed same-day flight changes.

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. The future trip must begin within 1 year from the issue date of the original ticket and the original flight must have been canceled prior to departure.

A full refund is available to refundable tickets.

Click here to request an American Airlines refund.

Changing an American Airlines Flight

UPDATE:

American Airlines has eliminated some change fees! Fare differences still apply. If your new flight is cheaper, you will receive credit to use towards a future flight. The new policy also applies to award tickets! See below for details.

All change fees for First, Business, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for all domestic and short-haul international tickets have been eliminated.

Short-haul international flights include flights to:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Central America
  • Caribbean
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico

They have also eliminated change fees for First, Business, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for all long-haul international flights originating in North or South America for tickets issued on or after November 19, 2020.

Long-haul international flights include travel to:

  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • Europe
  • New Zealand
  • South America
  • Asia

Note: You can only change your flight once for the fee to be waived.

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.

Click here to learn about same-day flight changes.

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.

There seem to be a lot of exceptions & details so click here to read their flight change guidelines to determine if you’re eligible or not.

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.

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

If you did not purchase the WORKS, click here to see if you will be charged a cancelation fee.

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

UPDATE:

Frontier has made a lot of changes due to coronavirus. The dates which you booked have different change/cancel fees/policies. Click here to find out if a fee is waived based on when you booked your ticket!

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

Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant offers what is called “Trip Flex.” This will allow you to avoid most cancellation and flight change charges. TripFlex 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 2 years 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, but you must cancel greater than 1 hour prior to departure.

Without Trip Flex, the cancellation/flight change fee is $75 each way, per passenger.

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

Changing an Allegiant Flight

If you purchased TripFlex, you must change your flight within 72 hours of departure.

Changes to Allegiant flights must be complete within 7 days of departure. There is a change fee of $75 each way 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.

UPDATE:

There is a fee waiver for all flights purchased through March 31, 2021.

Saver fares purchased through March 31, 2021 can’t be changed, but can be canceled & credit used for future travel. Saver fares purchased on or after April 1, 2021, cannot be changed or canceled.

Non-Saver fares tickets purchased after April 1, 2021 have permanently waived change fees for Main and First Class fares everywhere Alaska flies.

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.

Change/cancellation fees can vary based on state, seat type, & other things.

Typically, you will be charged $50 to change a flight the same day.

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

JetBlue Airlines

jetblue airplane flying

Changing or Canceling a JetBlue Flight

UPDATE:

JetBlue is waiving all cancel and change fees for flights booked by February 28, 2021!

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

UPDATE:

Spirit is waiving all cancellation and change fees for flights booked through February 28,2021.

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.

Click here for more about their change and cancellation policies.

So, is it cheaper to cancel a flight or change it? As you can see, 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.

At least most airlines are offering fee waives for flights booked during peak covid times!

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