Airlines starting to reinstate change fees on cheapest fares — here’s what you need to know

For those with tentative plans to fly this year, change fees on some fares that were waived by airlines during the pandemic have been reinstated or will be soon. Customers should also pay attention to expiration dates on travel vouchers they received last year.

American Airlines has reinstated change fees for its basic economy fares booked on or after April 1, 2021. Other U.S. carriers are reinstating the change fees for their lowest fare tiers on flights booked after April 30. This includes Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines.

For flights booked before March 2021, many airlines’ change or cancellation fees are still waived for the basic economy fare. 

For the fare classes above basic economy, most U.S. airlines are also still waiving the change fees that were first suspended at the onset of the pandemic. 

Alaska Airlines said it has permanently eliminated change fees for flights purchased on or after May 1, 2021.

A passenger wearing a face mask seen reading a news paper

FILE - A passenger wearing a face mask is seen reading a news paper inside an airplane on March 3, 2021. (Photo by James Matsumoto/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Customers who received a travel voucher or credit from an airline for a trip that was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic should also check the expiration date — as well as the fine print — as it can vary based on the carrier and date of booking.

Delta customers who received a voucher last year now have until September 2022 to use it. Travel vouchers from Allegiant Air expire two years from the initial date of purchase. American Airlines customers who have a travel voucher expiring between Jan. 1, 2021 and May 31, 2021, are automatically extended to expire on March 31, 2022.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new travel guidance saying that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at a lower risk of infection. But the agency still is not recommending travel due to the uptick in cases in the U.S. as the country races to vaccinate the population.

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.