Air travel has already pretty much returned to pre-pandemic levels this summer, as many people feel more comfortable flying after getting vaccinated. But if you haven’t traveled by plane in over a year, you might notice quite a few changes—like the fact that you have to wear masks in airports and on planes, as well as bring along negative COVID test results or your vaccination card depending on where you’re flying. Now, Delta Air Lines is making another new change for travelers by getting rid of one of its long-standing policies for the rest of the year. Read on to find out what the airline is ditching.
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Delta Air Lines is getting rid of fees for Basic Economy ticket changes.
Delta Air Lines released a statement July 27, announcing that the company would start waiving change fees for customers with Basic Economy tickets. Normally, most Basic Economy purchases are not changeable or refundable since they are the cheapest available tickets—but in some markets, these tickets can be changed for a fee up to $500. According to the airline, starting July 28, all “customers booked in Basic Economy can make changes to their flights through Dec. 31, 2021.” Any changes or cancellations can be made at no cost to the traveler, unless the new flight costs more than the original flight. If that is the case, travelers will have to pay the difference.
But if you are canceling a flight, you won’t get your money back.
Don’t expect to cancel your Basic Economy ticket and get that money right back in your pocket, however. According to Delta Air Lines’ new, temporary 2021 Basic Economy Changeability Waiver, passengers with these tickets are allowed to cancel their flight, but they will only receive an eCredit equal to the value of the unused ticket—not their actual money. Any eCredits issued under these circumstances have to be put toward new flights that must also be rebooked on or before Dec. 31, 2022.
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The company is making this change as travelers struggle to reach Delta agents.
According to Delta Air Lines, this change to Basic Economy ticket fees is being made as the company struggles to meet the recently rise in air travel demand. An influx of passengers looking to fly has subsequently increased wait times for Delta’s phone lines and questions about travel policies and schedule changes to an “unprecedented level,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastain said in the statement. The average wait time to reach a Delta customer service agent by phone is about an hour right now, but some travelers have reported wait times as long as nine hours, USA Today reports.
“As you take a much-deserved vacation or travel to reunite with loved ones, friends and business colleagues, the last thing you want is to experience long hold times when you call reservations or receive a notification that your flight schedule has changed,” Bastain said. “We know you expect more from Delta and assure you that these challenges are temporary. The Delta team is here to serve you and is taking significant actions to alleviate these pain points.”
Delta is also making other changes to alleviate demand issues.
This is not the only change Delta Air Lines is making to help travelers get through the busy 2021 summer travel season and beyond. According to the company’s statement, Delta is also trying to ramp up its staffing. The airline is hiring more than 5,000 new workers across the company, including more than 3,000 employees for Airport Customer Service and other operational areas.
“The Reservations and Care team is welcoming back hundreds of Delta alumni to alleviate wait times while hiring 1,300 specialists who will be trained and ready to serve customers by September,” Bastain said. “We’re also adding a new phone platform that automatically equips our agents with even more details about your travel, so they can address your questions efficiently and get you on your way.”
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