Delta Air Lines is making its basic economy tickets more flexible for the rest of year as it grapples with long customer service wait times.
The tickets are usually nonrefundable and cannot be changed, even for a fee, but Delta said it will allow basic economy customers to change flights occurring through the end of the year with no change fees.
The move comes as travelers struggle to reach agents. Wait times on Delta’s phone lines have spiked amid an increase in travelers and an “unprecedented” level of questions about travel policies and schedule changes, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Tuesday in a statement.
Delta announced it is hiring more than 5,000 people to help with record call volumes and other services.
Airlines eliminated onerous ticket change fees last year, but the new policies excluded the no-frills basic economy tickets, which tend to be the cheapest.
How do I change a Delta flight?
Starting Wednesday, customers booked in basic economy can make changes to flights for trips through Dec. 31.
Delta’s temporary 2021 Basic Economy Changeability Waiver will allow eligible customers to change the date, time or location of their trip on Delta.com and the Fly Delta app.
To change a flight, travelers can select “My Trips,” select the flight they want to change, then click “Modify Flight.” Selecting “Start Flight Change” will let them select which flight they would like to change and search for a new flight.
If a new flight costs more than the original flight or credit, travelers will have to pay the difference. Travelers who select a new flight that is less expensive than the original flight will receive credit for the difference, which is redeemable toward future travel.
Travelers can cancel a basic economy trip and receive credit for the value of the unused ticket. The credit must be rebooked on or before Dec. 31, 2022.
To cancel, travelers can visit the “My Trips” page on Delta’s website and select “Modify Flight” and “Start Flight Cancellation.” Tickets purchased on or before April 30, 2021, can be canceled before departure, but basic economy tickets purchased after April 30 are final.
Basic Economy flights in 2022 remain nonrefundable and nonchangeable, according to Delta’s website.
Long wait times: Delta hold times won’t improve until fall
Long wait times at Delta
Delta and its competitors have seen an unprecedented spike in calls as people search for answers to complicated questions over pandemic travel credits and travel restrictions.
Delta’s average wait time is about an hour, though travelers have reported waits as long as nine hours.
Bastian said he expects to return to normal wait times by September.
Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.