[Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines]
Alaska Airlines Safe Travel Info
Alaska Airlines Cancellation Policy & Safety Review
This is an independent review from Safe Travel Guide and is not affiliated with Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Airlines’ cancellation and ticket change policies have been revamped.
Amid Covid-19 and many American airlines’ recent movement to eliminate change fees, Alaska has added flexibility to many of its tickets.
Here’s what you need to know.
If you purchase a ticket on Alaska Airlines through December 31, 2020, for original travel scheduled between Feb 27 and November 30, 2020, you may change or cancel your ticket without fees, as long as you do so prior to the departure of the original flight.
This applies to tickets booked directly with Alaska; if you purchased your tickets through an online travel agency like Expedia or Priceline, or via a traditional travel agency or advisor, you need to contact them regarding changes or cancellations.
Tickets need to be issued by Alaska Airlines — you can tell if your ticket is in this category if the 13-digit ticket number begins with ‘027.’
Tickets may be changed to new dates within 12-months of the original travel date.
Saver fares purchased through December 31, 2020 are not changeable, but they can be canceled for eCredit on Alaska.
Beginning January 1, 2020, Alaska simply eliminates change fees on all of its Main and First Class tickets. Saver fares purchased in 2021 cannot be changed or canceled. Alaska’s move to end change fees is consistent with the overall trend for US airlines to end change fees following Covid and the low, ongoing demand for air travel.
Background on Cancellations & Changes
In March and April 2020, nearly every airline updated its rebooking and cancellation policies to allow customers to voluntarily reschedule or cancel flights without penalties. Call centers and customer support were overcapacity and many airlines offered free eCredit or vouchers for voluntary cancellations without needing to notify the airline.
As the pandemic continues, some airlines have moved back to pre-Covid policies while others, like Alaska Airlines, continue to offer flexibility.
The main differentiators between airlines are:
- How long they allow both new and existing bookings to be changed or cancelled without change fees
- The degree of flexibility offered: date changes only, or destination and/or passenger name changes on the booking
Alaska has been generous in its policies, and the move to eliminate change fees altogether is good for the customer. It will be interesting to see the ongoing impact on ticket cancellations — and the price and demand for Saver and Basic Economy fares — with no change fees on most tickets.
Social Distancing and Booking the Entire Row
Alaska has been one of a handful of airlines that has committed to blocking seats on its aircraft for social distancing. Many airlines — including United and American — have stopped blocking seats amid the pandemic. Onboard social distancing remains a controversial topic, but MIT Stern Professor Arnold Barnett has conducted a study (PDF) that finds one blocked seat between passengers does meaningfully reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 on board.
Alaska commits to blocking middle seats and limiting the number of passengers on board its aircraft through October 31, 2020.
Alaska Airlines has also recently launched a creative Buy One Get One (BOGO) promotion, allowing travelers to book a second seat on the same flight by only paying for the taxes and fees.
If you buy an economy ticket by September 16, 2020 for travel through October 31, 2020, you can opt to buy a second seat on the same flight by just paying for the taxes and fees. Given Alaska’s policy of blocking middle seats, couples or families traveling in pairs could end up with an entire row to themselves. Tickets must be purchased by September 16, 2020.
Full details are explained on Alaska’s web site.
Safe Travel Summary
“Mind Your Wingspan” floor decals and signs encourage social distancing at check-in
All passengers submit health declarations at check-in confirming no COVID-19 symptoms in the past 72 hours
All employees and customers must wear face masks on board. Alaska provides extras.
Electrostatic spraying disinfects aircraft using EPA-approved sanitizing product
Updated boarding process where passengers board from back to front in small groups
Cleaning protocols developed with U of Washington Medical Directors. Disinfecting of high-touch surfaces between every flight.
Thru Oct 31, 2020, Alaska limits capacity and blocks seats to encourage social distancing. Seats may be reassigned to allow more space between passengers.
Individual hand sanitizer wipes available on board
Cancellation & Safety Articles
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