Delta joins American in scrapping international ticket change fees

  • Delta is joining American Airlines in scrapping international change fees.
  • The measure is an effort to drum up demand for international air travel, which has suffered more than domestic trips in the pandemic.

Delta Air Lines is getting rid of $200 international ticket-change fees, joining American Airlines in the measure that aims to spur demand that has been decimated in the pandemic.

Delta, American and United in August dropped change fees for domestic flights. American last month expanded that to international travel, including long-haul routes.

Change and cancellation fees brought in $2.8 billion for U.S. carriers last year, according to the Department of Transportation. But with travel demand hovering around one-third of last year's levels and once-lucrative international travel especially hard hit, airlines are scrambling to loosen policies that would encourage travelers to book.

"They're gone for good," Delta's CEO Ed Bastian said during an interview with CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" when asked if the fees would return if business recovers. "We don't want just another reason why customers are nervous about booking and making advanced travel plans."

Exceptions include basic economy tickets, which are non-refundable, though Delta has a fee waiver in place for all tickets through March, and travel that originates outside of North America. Passengers will also still have to pay any difference in fare.

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