Award flights are a fantastic strategy for airlines to boost customer retention and incentivize loyalty — but what if you have to cancel one?
Many of us have to change our travel plans at one time or another, even if it’s simply catching a later flight or upgrading our seats. But if you have to cancel a flight altogether, you may feel as if this is a much bigger process, particularly if you’re traveling with frequent-flyer miles.
Different airlines handle award-flight cancellations in their own way. Many brands will actually impose a fee when you decide to drop out of your scheduled flight, which can be incredibly annoying if money’s tight.
Below, The Miles Market’s experts take a look at the major airlines’ cancellation policies — so you know what to expect if you find yourself unable or unwilling to take that award flight.
Air Canada is one of the foremost names in the travel industry, and it imposes a cancellation fee of $150 CAD (or around $112 USD) on award flights.
Needless to say, that’s not exactly cheap, so you have to be sure you really want to cancel before you make that call. You’re required to make cancellations at least 22 days before the flight is scheduled to take place, which may be impossible in certain situations (such as emergencies).
Please note that Altitude Super Elite 100K members enjoy free cancellations.
British Airways cancellation fee is somewhat lower than Air Canada’s, at just $55 USD ('though in some cases it may get to $500 USD)
British Airways airline allows members of its Executive Club to cancel their bookings up to 24 hours before departure, with a relatively low fee compared to other carriers.
The cancellation fee varies based on the ticket type, route, and membership status.
Have Gold status in the British Airways Executive Club? Your fee will be waived.
Delta Airlines has a straightforward cancellation policy for award flights. SkyMiles members can cancel their award bookings for a flat fee of $150, regardless of the fare class or destination.
However, if you hold SkyMiles Platinum or Diamond Medallion status, the cancellation fee is waived, providing added flexibility and cost savings for elite members.
This benefit allows loyal Delta customers to make changes or cancel award flights without incurring any additional fees, making it a valuable perk of the SkyMiles program.
Emirates imposes no charge on canceled award flights at all — but ONLY for unused Flex Plus tickets.
That’s pretty good, but if you’re cancelling a First Class Flex ticket you’ll be hit with a modest fee of $50 USD. On Saver reward tickets, the charge stands at $75 USD.
With Lufthansa, you’ll face a cancellation fee of $60 USD when you drop out of a scheduled award flight.
Your fee may be waived or the amount of the fee could vary in certain circumstances, but most customers should expect to be charged for cancellations.
Virgin Atlantic charges $50 for cancelled award flights which originate in the USA, and $50 in the local equivalent for international flights from any other region (it stands at £30 for journeys originating in the UK).
EVA Air offers a clear fee structure for the cancellation and changes of award flights through their Infinity MileageLands program. For date or destination changes, as well as cancellations, a fee of $50 applies. When it comes to no-show situations, passengers traveling to America, Europe, or Oceania routes face a $100 fee, while those traveling to Asia, Hong Kong, and Macau face a $50 fee. However, it's important to note that Silver, Gold, and Diamond members enjoy waivers for these fees. EVA Air does not impose a close-in booking fee. As a member of the Star Alliance, EVA Air is popular for international travel.
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