Alaska Airlines Joins Rivals in Dropping Ticket Change Fees

Leading U.S. carriers including Alaska Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have decided to drop the fee charged to consumers for changing bookings.

Alaska Air Group  (ALK) - Get Report on Tuesday became the latest carrier to eliminate its ticket change fees, following the lead set by United Airlines. Alaska previously charged $125 for changes to domestic and international tickets, and the change will apply to all tickets except Saver fares.

"COVID has taught us that flexibility in travel is key. As we evolve our approach to travel... it's important to give our guests flexibility when they book by eliminating change fees," said the company's Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Harrison, in a statement

Shares of Alaska Air were rising 0.6% to $39.19 on Tuesday afternoon after dipping slightly in the morning. 

On Aug. 30, United Airlines  (UAL) - Get Report dropped its $200 domestic change fee permanently to cope with the low demand for air travel during the global pandemic. Both Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Report and American Airlines  (AAL) - Get Report followed suit the next day, with American also dropping fees for international flights to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Most carriers and airports now insist on face masks for passengers and staff, and also provide temperature checks, hand sanitizers and deeper cabin cleaning. The industry has been keen to reassure passengers that air travel is safe.

The International Air Traffic Association has forecast a record $100 billion loss for the industry this year. Last week, American Airlines said it would cut 19,000 jobs as of Oct. 1, when protections tied to federal aid to U.S. carriers expire this fall.

U.S. airlines could cut close to 75,000 jobs this fall, The Wall Street Journal reported. Earlier this summer, Delta Air Lines said it would furlough 1,941 pilots unless it reaches a deal with their union on other cost reductions.