Air travel is already stressful for many people, and flying during a pandemic makes everything more complicated. Even if travelers are comfortable sitting in an enclosed space with strangers for hours, dropping a few hundreds bucks on a flight months ahead of time may feel presumptuous when the future feels so uncertain. Now, flyers with several major airlines no longer have to worry about that aspect of their trip: United, Delta, American, Hawaiian, and Alaska airlines are eliminating flight change fees to attract more customers.
Previously, it was standard practice for airlines to charge fliers if they asked to change the time or date of their flight after a certain period. On August 30, United became the first major airline to get rid of change fees, and within a few days, some of the country's biggest airlines followed suit. Now, if a traveler's destination sees a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, or they test positive days before their trip, they can delay their flight without paying extra.
The permanent change is just one way airlines are adapting to the decline in business they've seen since the start of the pandemic. In addition to eliminating change fees, United is also doing away with fees to fly standby, and issuing flight credits for trips that are canceled all together. American Airlines will also allow customers to keep travel credits if the trip they rebook is cheaper than their original flight.
The novel coronavirus is still active in the U.S., and driving is still safer than taking any kind of public transportation. But when traveling by air is a necessity, here are some tips for staying safe at the airport and on the plane.