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Award change fee guide by airline – who’s free, who gouges

by on Thu October 4, 2012 • No Comment

We all know about annoying change fees on tickets we buy on airlines. But what about ‘free’ award tickets? Is there any prayer for changing them without being gouged?

Well, it depends on the airline, and unlike fees for regular tickets there’s a pretty wide range of policies from good to downright punitive.

Most of us have miles with American, Delta, United, US Airways, or Southwest. And among those American, United and Southwest are the most reasonable. Southwest has no fees at all, while American and United will let you change dates for free up to 21 days in advance. But Delta and US Airways are downright punitive with $150 fees for any change.

Foreign carriers are more lenient, with some Asian carriers like Korean and Cathay Pacific having no change fees at all, and European carriers generally charging $50 or less. That’s helpful if you have a credit card that lets you transfer miles into another program like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or American Express Premier Rewards Gold.

Here’s the rundown…

US Carriers

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. $100 change / cancellation fee over the phone, $75 at No fee for changes within 24 hours of booking for domestic/Canada/Mexico trips, 72 hours for other international.

American Airlines AAdvantage. Changes to the date of an award ticket (destination must be the same) can be made free of charge within 21 days of issuing the ticket. If you make a change after 21 days you will be charged a $75 award processing fee.

Delta SkyMiles. All changes to an award ticket incur a $150 charge unless you are a Platinum or Diamond Medallion member. You cannot make changes to an award ticket within 72 hours of departure.

Hawaiian Airilnes. $50 change fee. $150 to cancel and redeposit a ticket.

JetBlue True Blue. $100 fee for changes to dates or routing.

Southwest Rapid Rewards. No change fees on any ticket – but if you change to a flight that has a higher point requirement you will have to pay additional points.

United Mileage Plus. Changes to the date of an award ticket (destination must be the same) can be made free of charge up to 21 days before departure.

US Airways. All changes to an award ticket incur a $150 fee unless you are a Chairman’s Preferred member.

Virgin America Elevate. $100 fee for changes and cancellations.

Non-US Carriers

Air France / KLM Flying Blue. You can change or cancel an award ticket for 45 Euros (note that ‘promo’ discounted awards cannot be changed).

Air Canada Aeroplan. $90 fee for changes to a date, routing, or destination. You can redeposit miles for $90 up to 21 days before departure. After that you can cancel a ticket for free but need to use the miles within one year from the date it was issued, and pay a $90 fee when you reschedule.

Alitalia MilleMiglia. No fee for date changes. 55 Euro or 5,000 mile penalty for changes to an airline or routing / destination on ‘Standard’ awards.

ANA Mileage Club. Free changes up to 3 days before departure. Tickets can be redeposited for no fee, but with a 3,000 mile penalty.

British Airways Avios. $40 fee for changes to dates / times or cancellation / redeposit.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Change dates free of charge.

Korean Airlines Skypass. Date or destination changes are allowed free. Redeposit free, but with a 10,000 mile penalty if the cancellation is made over 1 year after the initial issuance.

Singapore KrisFlyer. $20 fee for partner airline changes, no charge for date changes on Singapore Airlines fights. $30 fee to redeposit miles..

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. $50 fee for changes, for cancelations outside 7 days a $50 fee plus a 25% mileage penalty. Cancellations within 7 days forfeit the miles used.



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