In the latest sign of how messy this holiday weekend could be for air travelers, Delta Air Lines issued an unusual waiver that will let customers rebook their trip without paying change fees or fare differences.
The waiver is good through July 8.
The airline adopted more flexible booking policies early in the coronavirus pandemic, eliminating change fees on most tickets, but the new waiver includes basic economy fares, which are normally excluded. The waiver also allows customers to pay the same price for their new tickets, even if the listed fare is more expensive than than their original itinerary.
Customers covered by the policy are those who plan to fly anywhere in Delta's network between July 1 and July 4. To qualify for the fare difference waiver, travel must be rebooked and begin by July 8, and must begin and end at the same airport and in the same cabin class as the original ticket.
"Delta is expected to carry customer volumes from Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 4 not seen since before the pandemic as people yearn to connect with the world," the airline said in a statement announcing the waiver. "Some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend. 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."
Why are airlines canceling flights?
Airlines have been struggling with reliability throughout the summer, with thousands of flights canceled around Memorial Day weekend and more delays, cancellations and difficulties stacking up pretty much every day since.
Pilot shortage: Airlines struggle with reliability this summer
In large part, it's due to staffing issues as a result of airlines downsizing earlier in the pandemic. Now, they're struggling to catch up – and staff up – to meet this summer's surging demand.
What airlines owe you if your flight is canceled or delayed
Even if you're not covered by Delta's waiver, you can still be owed some compensation if there is a significant delay or a cancellation. If your flight is canceled, the Department of Transportation generally requires the airlineto refund your fare in cash if you prefer not to travel, even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket.
Summer travel headaches: What airlines owe you when flights are canceled, delayed
Although the DOT's definition of "significant" is a little fuzzy, the department also requires compensation for serious delays as well.
Airlines took to issuing travel credits during the pandemic to try to convince travelers to book in otherwise uncertain times, and most airlines still provide some degree of flexibility around their bookings this summer.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Delta Air Lines cuts fare differences and change fees for July 4