How much does it cost to change or cancel a flight in 2023?
The cost for changing or canceling a flight will vary by airline. Here we’ll break it down and offer some tips for avoiding change and cancellation fees altogether. The cost to change or cancel a flight depends upon the specific details of an airline’s policy, which vary by airline. In some cases, you can make changes to your itinerary with no fee.
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Every major U.S. airline (except Southwest Airlines) typically charges penalty fees to change or cancel an economy fare flight. The fees, however, can vary from as low as $75 on a domestic flight to more than $400 on an international flight.
However, many airlines are temporarily waiving change fees due to the pandemic. Also, if you have elite status with a particular carrier, fees may be waived or you may be able to change your flight for free or for a reduced cost. Below, we’ve broken out the fees:
Airline flight change fees for economy fares
|Carrier||Domestic change||International change||Same-day change|
|Air New Zealand||$50||$100||$50|
|Alaska Airlines||$0 (except Saver fares)||N/A||$25-$50|
|British Airways||$0 (through August 2022)||$0 (through August 2022)||N/A|
|Cathay Pacific||$0 (for first change)||$0 (for first change)||$0 (for first change)|
|Delta Air Lines||$0||$0||$75|
|Etihad Airways||$0 (through May 2022)||$0 (through May 2022)||$0 (through May 2022)|
|Hainan Airlines||$0-40% of the fare (depending to ticket class)||$0-40% of the fare (depending to ticket class)||5%-50% of the fare (depending on ticket class)|
|Hawaiian Airlines||$0 (excluding Basic Cabin fares)||$0 (excluding Basic Cabin fares)||N/A|
|JetBlue||$0–$100||$0–$200||$75 (waived for Mosaic customers)|
|Korean Air||$30||$30||$0 (through June 30, 2022)|
|Norwegian Air||$0 - ~$80||$0 - ~$80||$0 - ~$80|
|Qatar Airways||$0 (through May 2022)||$0 (through May 2022)||$0 (through May 2022)|
|Ryanair||$0 - ~$80||$0 - ~$80||~$80|
|Singapore Airlines||$0 (first change)||$0 (first change)||$0 (first change)|
|Spirit Airlines||$0 - $99||$0 - $99||$99|
|Thai Airways||$125 USD + 30 SGD||$125 USD + 250 SGD||N/A|
|Turkish Airlines||$0 (through May 2022 for tickets purchased before April 2022)||$0 (through May 2022 for tickets purchased before April 2022)||$0 (through May 2022 for tickets purchased before April 2022)|
|United Airlines||$0 (excluding Basic Economy fares)||$0 (excluding Basic Economy fares)||$0 (excluding Basic Economy fares)|
|WestJet||~$39 - ~$366 (no changes permitted for basic fares)||~$39 - ~$366 (no changes permitted for basic fares)||~$39 - ~$366 (no changes permitted for basic fares)|
A simple way to change or cancel a flight without paying a fee is to do so within 24 hours of booking.
After this window, the next option is to wait to see if the airline makes a change to the flight — the departure time, the aircraft, etc. — which will automatically grant you a refund if you change or cancel. Otherwise, some airlines, like Southwest, let you cancel your flight at no cost, and you likely won’t be charged if you have proof of a family emergency or, in some cases, if you hold elite status with an airline.
If you intend to cancel a flight due to COVID-19, many airlines are making special exceptions to waive cancellation fees. United Airlines was the first major U.S. airline to permanently eliminate change and cancellation fees — and other airlines quickly followed suit. While there are still a few noteworthy exceptions, now it’s easier than ever to adjust your itinerary for little to no cost.
Changing or canceling a flight with credit card travel insurance
If you can’t get your money back by canceling a trip through an airline, you may be able to do so through your credit card company. Credit cards with travel insurance can be used to reimburse nonrefundable expenses on canceled trips. If you used a credit card with this perk to purchase any part of your trip, you might be eligible for a refund if your trip is a “covered loss.” Depending on the card, you may be refunded up to $20,000. For most card issuers, covered losses include: injury, illness or death of a traveling partner or business partner, weather, terrorism and jury duty.
In general, trip cancellation and trip interruption are covered by credit cards with travel insurance. Both cardholders and immediate family members tend to be covered with credit card travel insurance, even if the primary cardholder isn’t traveling on a trip. Card issuers typically don’t cover trips that last over a certain length, such as 60 days, or ones that are canceled because of a change in your plans or your personal finances.
The following cards offer travel insurance, in the form of trip interruption and trip cancellation insurance:
|Card||Trip Interruption/Trip Cancellation Insurance||Annual Fee|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip||$550|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip||$0|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip||$95|
|United Club℠ Infinite Card||Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip||$525|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip||$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card||Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip||$95|
Common reasons airlines waive change fees
In a few circumstances, airlines allow travelers to cancel or change their nonrefundable tickets for free. The most common cancellations for which airlines waive change fees are:
- Cases of personal injury or illness
- Jury duty
- Natural disasters
- Family death
- Military deployment
In all of these cases, you should call the airline’s customer service line to explain your situation. Be prepared to provide proof of the reason for the requested change or cancellation, as most airlines will require you to submit supporting documentation.
Depending on the airline and your situation, you’ll either receive a travel credit or a monetary refund after your change is approved. Airlines will usually waive the change fee and grant a travel credit that can be used within a year of the original booking date.
Many airlines are waiving their change fees during the COVID-19 outbreak, and allowing customers to receive full refunds or credits for flights at a later time. Each airline has a slightly different policy, so be sure to contact them for the exact terms.
Award ticket change and cancellation policy
If you booked your tickets with credit card points, you’ll likely still have to pay a change or cancellation fee. Several major airlines require fees for changing your award travel or or you must cancel and redeposit your miles.
It’s important to note that the rules for awards programs vary from airline to airline. In addition, there may be different rules depending on whether you transferred points from your credit card’s general rewards program. If you’re unsure about the rules of your particular program or airline, it’s best to call the customer service number and speak with a representative about your options.
Quick tips to avoid cancellation or change fees
There are some general ways you can cancel or change your flight without needing to pay any fees at all, or at least mitigate the cost of your change/cancellation fees:
1. Change or cancel your ticket within 24 hours of booking.
The primary way to avoid paying a change fee on an airplane ticket is to change or cancel the ticket within a day of booking your trip. The Department of Transportation has a long-standing policy that requires airlines to provide free changes to consumers within 24 hours of purchasing, so long as a ticket is bought at least seven days before a flight. Once the 24-hour grace period ends, your options for modifying your itinerary for free depend on what type of ticket you have.
2. Wait to see if the airline changes or cancels your flight.
Outside the 24-hour post-booking window, basic economy fares are often nonrefundable. Your best chance at changing your basic economy ticket for free is to wait and see if the airline changes some aspect of the flight. If the airline moves the flight time by a significant margin or changes the type of aircraft, then you might be eligible for a refund.
3. Make smaller changes
Round-trip fares are likely to incur greater change/cancellation fees than one-way fares. If you purchased a round-trip flight and need to change the first leg to a different day, your best bet will likely be to pay the change fee and book a new flight. If you only need to change the return portion of a round trip, however, it may be cheaper to book a new one-way flight than to pay the cancellation fee.
If your ticket is one-way rather than round-trip, the most affordable way to change your flight may be to skip the current ticket and buy a new fare, depending on the cancellation fee charged by your airline. In some cases, the cancellation fee alone can cost more than booking a new flight altogether. Plus, airlines charge the difference in fare when you purchase a new ticket — so if you bought your ticket at $150, for example, and the current price for that fare is $275, you’d need to pay $125 on top of any cancellation fee.
4. Consider standby
For those looking to move their flight time to earlier or later in the day, airlines offer two different options — standby and same-day confirmed change — which usually cost $100 or less. With a same-day confirmed change, you forfeit your current ticket and pay a fee to get a guaranteed seat on another flight. With standby, you pay a fee to be placed on a waiting list for the next available flight to your destination, and you get to keep your current reservation.
The information related to Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Freedom Flex℠, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, United Club℠ Infinite Card, United℠ Explorer Card, World of Hyatt Credit Card, has been independently collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.