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We all remember those pesky flight change and cancellation fees that U.S. airlines relentlessly and unapologetically charged pre-pandemic. But the public health crisis has changed how the carriers implement fare rules.
Delta Air Lines was one of those companies that once charged change fees, but no more. Most Delta fares now can be changed for free, and you can use this updated policy to rebook flights when the price drops.
Although you won’t get a refund per se, you can save money on future travel. Here’s how to rebook and save on tickets when there's a Delta price adjustment.
Does Delta charge to change flights?
Most Delta flights can be modified at no extra cost. Remember, that you’re still responsible for the fare difference if there is any, but change fees don't apply to tickets booked in most classes of service (basic economy is the primary exception).
Delta tickets booked in the main cabin or above are eligible for free changes and cancellations for international travel originating in North America or domestic travel within the U.S., Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
When you voluntarily cancel a Delta ticket, the value of your original ticket is issued in the form of an eCredit assigned to the original traveler, which can be applied toward a future flight.
Usually, Delta eCredits expire within one year of purchase. However, in a flyer-friendly move by Delta, travelers can now use their eCredit through Dec. 31, 2023, to book travel through 2024. The policy applies to all eligible tickets, including those purchased in 2022.
As mentioned, the main outliers of this flexible policy are the airline’s basic economy tickets, which aren’t exchangeable and are subject to cancellation fees. Keep this in mind when you select a fare at booking.
Which Delta fares can be refunded?
Generally speaking, Delta fares can’t be refunded back to the original method of payment unless you cancel within 24 hours after purchasing a fare or book a refundable fare.
However, if you've purchased travel insurance or booked with a credit card that has travel insurance benefits, you may be eligible for a full refund depending on the policy you purchased and your reason for canceling.
Delta's flexibility to rebook without a change fee opens up a world of savings for canceling original tickets and rebooking when prices drop.
Note that non-basic economy Delta award tickets can be canceled any time before departure; the miles are redeposited to your SkyMiles account without fees.
» Learn more: How to get a Delta refund
When you can change your Delta flights
You can change or cancel an eligible Delta flight any time before departure without incurring fees. However, if you’re a no-show and you don’t make any changes to your reservation, you’ll lose the value of your ticket.
Make sure to update your booking beforehand to avoid losing money, especially now that changes and cancellations are free and easy to do in the Delta app or online.
How to rebook your Delta flight at a cheaper fare
After you book your flight directly with Delta, you can change it until departure as long as the fare is eligible for free cancellation.
Instead of watching your flight like a hawk and checking its price every day, we recommend setting up a tracker on Google Flights to let you know when the cost of your flight drops.
Select the flight that you'd like to monitor and toggle the slider to track prices. Once the price changes, you’ll receive an email letting you know whether it went up or down.
If the new price is lower, here's how to save money on Delta flights. To change a Delta flight, go to “My Trips” in your SkyMiles account (either online or in the Fly Delta app) and find the flight you wish to update. Click on “Modify Flight,” then click on “Start Flight Change.” Select your preferred flight and finalize booking.
Because your new flight is less expensive, you will receive an eCredit for the difference, so no cash value is lost in the process. With a generous voucher expiration window, you should have time to use the credit for another trip.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards this month
If you’re looking to rebook and save with Delta
Although changing a Delta fare to save money takes a little work, your travel piggy bank will thank you. Remember that you can change or cancel most Delta fares up to departure for free, and eCredits are valid through Dec. 31, 2023, giving you a lot of time to use them. Eligible award flights follow the same rules as cash tickets and incur no mileage redeposit fees, which means points travelers can rebook and save with Delta, too.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card