Another day, another dollar in the pockets of travelers. Or in the case of Alaska Airlines passengers, another $150 in their pockets.
The Seattle-based airline has officially become the fourth U.S. airline this week to permanently eliminate its change fee for all passengers, excluding those booked on the bargain-basement Saver fares. (Southwest, the fifth U.S. airline without change fees, has never had them.) Unlike United, Delta, and American, however, Alaska includes all of its international flights under the no-change-fee policy.
Of course, Alaska has minimal international routes, for the time being, only flying to Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Although American—with whom Alaska has a codeshare agreement—has gotten rid of change fees for its short-haul international flights, including the Caribbean, so that opens up the destination pool quite a bit.
And while the big three airlines have also removed same-day standby fees, Alaska was ahead of the game in that department, offering the service free of charge before the pandemic. And it might have another leg up on its competition. Though the terms are not formally in the airline’s announcement of the removal of change fees, Alaska has previously offered passengers airline credit for the difference in fare for flight changes. If that policy continues, it’s good news for travelers worried that a cheaper flight might pop up after they book.
With Alaska formally in the no-change-fee club, all eyes are on the last big hold holdout, JetBlue, which we anticipate will follow the competition shortly. As for the remaining U.S. airlines—Hawaiian, Frontier, Spirit, Allegiant, and Sun Country—we’re not so sure they’ll financially be able to let go of the revenue earned from change fees. But that said, it’s 2020, so anything can happen.