The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.
April 30, 2021 was the last day when Alaska, Delta and United travelers who purchased basic economy tickets could take advantage of flexible travel waivers. Going forward, all basic economy tickets will be non-changeable and non-refundable.
Basic economy tickets were not refundable or changeable before the pandemic. Travelers had to buy them at their own risk. But the pandemic made some airlines waive fees for changing/canceling flights, even if it was a basic economy ticket.
Now airlines are beginning to revert those wavers to pre-pandemic restrictions. Thus, in April 2021, American Airlines canceled their global travel waiver and made newly bought basic economy tickets non-refundable and non-changeable again. Starting May 1, three other U.S. airlines - Alaska, Delta, and United - let their flexible travel waivers go as well.
The only airline that still waives the change fees is JetBlue. However, their flexible travel waiver is set to expire on May 31, 2021, and there have been no announcements about its extension.
While basic economy fare restrictions are back, airlines keep their change fees policies intact. Last year United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines and others eliminated most change fees. Still, basic economy tickets are excluded from the no-change fees policies.
Now, with expired flexible travel waivers, you will need to think carefully before you buy a basic economy ticket. Otherwise, you may spend twice as much as you intended to.