You know flying is bad when airlines are encouraging you to change your plans.
In anticipation of the expected travel chaos, Delta Air Lines is letting passengers reschedule Fourth of July trips at no cost. The carrier announced Tuesday that it is instituting a "fare difference waiver" for travel between Friday and Monday, which allows travelers to rebook flights without a fare difference or change fee. The offer is good as long as your route remains the same and your rebooked trip begins no later than July 8.
The waiver applies to all Delta tickets, including Basic Economy, and all routes. So say you planned to fly on Friday. You could now reschedule for Thursday, when airports may be slightly less busy. But to be clear: You should expect long lines and potential cancellations no matter when you fly.
"Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta's operation. . . . Even so, 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," the company said in the announcement.
You can change your flight through Delta's website or app under "My Trips," then "Change or Add Flights." If you want to speak to a customer service representative over the phone, expect long wait times as airlines cope with labor shortages.
Airlines waived change fees during the pandemic, but Delta's weekend offer is different. Typically, airlines will charge you for the fare difference of your new flight, but not a change fee. Southwest has long had this policy, but other major airlines such as United, Delta and American Airlines axed change fees on non-Basic Economy tickets during the pandemic.
Flying has been plagued with issues since the summer season began, thanks to a perfect storm of bad weather, staffing issues and increased demand. More than 2,800 U.S. flights were canceled over Memorial Day. During the holiday weekend that included Juneteenth and Father's Day, roughly 5,000 flights were canceled.
Airlines had been preemptively trimming schedules this summer in hopes of getting in front of issues. Delta announced earlier this month that it is cutting back 100 daily flights through the beginning of August.