Airlines extend free rebooking policies amid uncertainty regarding summer travel

Airlines extend free rebooking policies amid uncertainty regarding summer travel
Credit: Brussels Airlines

With uncertainty still looming over summer travel with regards to the coronavirus pandemic, Brussels Airlines is the latest to announce they’re extending the option for free rebooking up to July 31.

The airline expects 2021 to remain a challenging year after seeing the number of passengers drop by 77% in 2020 and its revenue slump by 72% compared to 2019.

The airline industry was hit particularly hard by the pandemic due to restrictions placed on international travel in order to control the spread of the virus. Media outlets and experts say the health crisis is “the worst ever” in the history of the aviation industry, with many airlines declaring bankruptcy.

All Lufthansa Group airlines (Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Lufthansa and SWISS) have allowed passengers to rebook their flights without a rebooking fee since the end of August 2020, and while that policy was initially set to expire at the end of May, it has now been extended to July 31.

After that date, one more rebooking is possible free of charge.

Aer Lingus announced that passengers can change their flight for free as often as needed as standard on any route and any fare type until 31 December 2021.

United Airlines decided to permanently get rid of change fees for most of its Economy and premium passengers, but they resumed change fees for Basic Economy tickets issued on or after May 1, 2021.

TUI fly Belgium allows passengers to make changes to their flight free of charge until 31 July 2021 as long as they made their booking before that date.

Delta Airlines has made no update to their current policy which stated as of April 2021 that, “for all Delta tickets where travel begins outside of North America, we continue to offer waived change fees except for Basic Economy fares, which are not changeable.”

Icelandair likewise is continuing to waive change fees “until further notice.”

British Airlines has announced no changes to its current policy that waives change booking fees only for certain bookings, namely those made from 3 March 2020 onwards for journeys that are due to have been completed by 30 April 2022, and for bookings made prior to 3 March 2020 for journeys due to have started by 28 February 2021.

Turkish Airlines is offering “Flexible Travel opportunities” until and including March 31, 2022, for tickets bought until December 31, 2021.

Royal Air Maroc offered no waived change fees during coronavirus on tickets other than those which already included it.

Airlines hope that flexible booking options will give potential travellers the confidence needed to purchase tickets amid uncertainty regarding summer travel restrictions, as the aviation industry struggles with depressed revenue as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Some experts don't expect air travel to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

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