Delta Air, American drop domestic change fees, following move by United

Delta Air Lines Inc. signage is displayed as a traveler uses self check-in kiosk in Delta Air Lines Inc.

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Delta Air Lines and American Airlines said on Monday they are dropping domestic change fees, mirroring an announcement by rival United Airlines on Sunday in a push to woo back travelers.

Atlanta-based Delta said the elimination of change fees is effective immediately and includes tickets purchased for travel within the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands for all tickets except basic economy. American’s change also covers flights to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

In an appearance on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Monday afternoon, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said management had for months mulled changing punitive policies for customers.

United happened to beat Delta to the punch, announcing that it would do away with its $200 ticket-change fee.

“This was a path we were on. I think it’s the right move by United, and we’re pleased to confirm that we’re staying on the path and …. [we] have eliminated those” fees, Bastian said. “They’re not in effect currently and won’t be coming back into effect once we get outside this year.”

Bastian did not unequivocally say whether dropping the fees would be permanent. “They’re effectively eliminated from this point forward,” he said.

Delta, United and American were already waiving change fees through the end of the year to give travelers more flexibility in an uncertain environment.

Delta collected $830 million in ticket cancellation and change fees last year, American $819 million and United $625 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The industry as a whole brought in more than $2.8 billion in related fees in 2019, down from a peak of $3 million in 2015.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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