Delta, American Join United In Eliminating Change Fees In US

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Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, looking to draw customers back during the pandemic, are dropping change fees for domestic flights, CNBC reported Monday (Aug. 31).

The move comes after rival United Airlines did the same thing Sunday (Aug. 30), getting rid of its $200 fee to change tickets for domestic flights.

Delta, which is based in Atlanta, made the elimination of the change fees effective immediately, and included all tickets for the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands except for basic economy. And American included flights to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, CNBC reported.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said the company had been pondering doing away with the fees, but United had beaten them to the punch. Bastian, speaking on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Monday (Aug. 31), said United had made the right move given the circumstances.

“[We] have eliminated those” fees, Bastian said, according to CNBC. “They’re not in effect currently and won’t be coming back into effect once we get outside this year.”

He didn’t commit to eliminating the fees entirely; he just said it would be the case for the time being.

The airlines have all been ravaged by the pandemic and are wrestling with having to furlough thousands of pilots as a mandate to protect airline jobs via federal funding for airlines is set to expire Sept. 30, and nothing new has been passed yet.

Bastian said he hopes airlines would “be able to mitigate those through work we’re doing with the union,” adding that Delta is looking at having to lay off over 1,900 pilots, CNBC reported.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said he doesn’t see a fortuitous year ahead for airlines, PYMNTS reported. Kirby, in the wake of United’s own removal of the change fees, said the vaccine for the coronavirus would be the only way airline business could fully return to normal.

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