As we enter 2021 and see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, there’s no escaping that the travel industry looks very, very different than it did a year ago.
Many changes focused on keeping you safe, while other airline changes impacted (and lowered) the cost of travel. One helpful policy change was when the airlines agreed to suspend change and cancellation fees for customers. Now that vaccinations and looming herd immunity are seemingly around the corner, will the airlines revert to the old, inflexible ways?
Some Think Flexible Airline Tickets Are Here to Stay
There’s a school of thought that says the pandemic ushered in a new era for the airlines and that they won’t likely reverse what’s seen as a positive customer service initiative in a time when solid customer support is sorely lacking. Of course, as far as this school of thought goes, the airlines have a myriad of ways to collect fees. They could say that the fees are gone for good, but simply raise flight prices slightly to cover that policy so they don’t lose any money.
In recent years, more airlines have gone to an ‘a la carte’ ticket structure anyway, so you pay a base fee for the ticket (in some cases) and add on other options – like premium seats or a free checked bag – to have a more custom experience.
Also, even though airlines don’t charge a flat cancellation or change fee right now, you’re still on the hook for any change in price for a ticket that you plan to rebook. So there’s that.
Others Suggest Airline Cancellation Fees Will Be Back Again
On the other side of the argument, some industry insiders are speculating that the airlines will quickly slap those change and cancellation fees back on tickets just as soon as it’s safe to do so. It’s an additional revenue stream for the airlines, and no one can argue that the industry took a huge hit in 2020. Would you really be surprised if they brought those fees back?
We’re just not sure which way the chips are going to fall on this one. If you have a trip on the horizon you can buy ahead now knowing that ticket is changeable.
If it’s important that you buy a ticket with free changes built in, it could be a good idea to buy sooner rather than later. After all, if you buy now you know you can change if you need to do so for free. If you wait until later this year, you might be stuck with a different deal.
How do you feel about this possibility? If the airlines started charging change and cancellation fees would it be upsetting? Irritating but not surprising? Fine with you and expected? Let us know how you’re feeling in the comments section.