Nervous about flying during a busy holiday weekend? Delta Air Lines Inc. has an alternative: don’t.
Delta is allowing customers to change flights for free, letting them rebook trips before or after potentially challenging weekend days without paying a higher last-minute fare or a change fee.
The waiver will apply across Delta’s entire network for July 1 through July 4, as long as customers travel between the same origins and destinations by July 8.
A Delta Air Lines Airbus A321 takes off. (Delta Air Lines)
Delta said it expects some challenges this holiday weekend, despite efforts by the company and its staff to reset the carrier’s operations.
"This unique waiver is being issued to give Delta customers greater flexibility to plan around busy travel times, weather forecasts and other variables without worrying about a potential cost to do so," the airline said in a statement.
Airlines typically waive fees and fare differences so customers can avoid flying during storms or other disruptions, and such waivers are usually confined to particular cities or regions. Carriers including Delta eliminated most change fees during the pandemic, so the main benefit for passengers would be the ability to book a new flight—if they can find a seat—without paying a higher last-minute fare.
An agent works the counter at the Delta Air Lines terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport. ( (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) / AP Newsroom)
Delta’s broad waiver highlights the challenging conditions that travelers could encounter across the country this weekend.
It has already been a rough start to the summer for airline passengers. Cancellations and delays have been mounting, and customers have complained of missed connections, long lines and hourslong waits for help by phone.
And airports are getting busier. The number of people passing through U.S. airports Sunday reached the highest level since February 2020, before appetite for travel dried up during the pandemic, according to the Transportation Security Administration. With flights about as full as they were before the pandemic, it can be difficult for airlines to reaccommodate travelers when their plans are disrupted.
Delta planes are shown at their gates at Salt Lake City International Airport. ((AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) / AP Newsroom)
Airlines have cited a confluence of issues to explain the problems, including staffing shortfalls throughout the industry and at air traffic control facilities, as well as bad weather.
With demand booming, some airlines have found that they scheduled too many flights this summer to operate them all reliably, and several have scaled back. Major carriers have culled some 15% of planned flying this summer from what they expected to operate at the start of the year, according to the trade group Airlines for America. Delta has said it would trim about 100 flights a day in July and into August.
Ticker Security Last Change Change % DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 29.50 -0.86 -2.85%
Delta, which has staked its reputation on operating more reliably than rivals, has faced difficulties. It has canceled hundreds of flights over the past two weekends, according to FlightAware.
Write to Alison Sider at [email protected]