Delta Air Lines will allow changes to basic economy tickets through the end of the year as well as extend medallion status for frequent flyers until 2023 as travel continues to rebound amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Announced Tuesday, passengers with basic economy tickets can change their travel plans through Dec. 31 for free and rebook travel through Dec. 31, 2022. The move was made, in part, to address staggering call wait times for customer service issues.
“After a year of lockdowns, it’s been heartening to see so many of you returning to the skies this summer and reclaiming your lives,” Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. “While we are pleased to welcome you back, the unexpected pace of the return of our customers has resulted in some unforeseen challenges as we ramp up to meet demand and handle a record-breaking level of calls.”
Delta already eliminated most change fees on both domestic and international flights last year, but basic economy fares were excluded.
Additionally, Delta extended rewards for SkyMiles Medallion Members, allowing passengers to keep their status through Jan. 31, 2023, and continue to use any upgrade certificates they have earned. Any customers who do decide to travel now and earn status will “receive elevated benefits” for 2022, including priority for complimentary upgrades.
“Your loyalty to Delta has never been more important, and we’re committed to earning it as we move into the recovery and beyond,” Bastian said.
Travel demand has been rebounding this summer as vaccines have rolled out and many travel restrictions have been lifted, but it hasn’t quite reached pre-pandemic levels. Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 10.1 million passengers, the highest number of travelers since the coronavirus pandemic began. But on a day-to-day comparison, passenger throughput largely remains just under 2019 levels.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.