"COVID has taught us that flexibility in travel is key," Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines, said in a statement Tuesday. "As we evolve our approach to travel to include more than 100 safety actions, it's important to give our guests flexibility when they book by eliminating change fees."
The new change-fee policy applies to all tickets, except for Saver fares. Previously, Alaska charged a $125 change fee to all non-Saver travel, except for guests traveling on refundable tickets and Mileage Plan top elite status members.
In addition, Alaska will extend its flexible travel policy for all new ticket purchases, including Saver fares, through Dec. 31, 2020.
Like its competitors, Alaska Airlines has instituted various safety measures on its flights to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company rolled out a "No Mask. No Travel." policy, which it says the vast majority of passengers have adhered to. To date, Alaska has suspended travel for 75 guests due to non-compliance.
Other measures include blocking middle seats on all flights and reducing capacity on regional flights through Oct. 31 and sanitizing planes between flights, including disinfecting high-touch areas of the plane such as tray tables, armrests, and buckles.
Alaska has also offered other incentives to encourage passengers to fly, such as adding touch free travel options on its mobile app and extending its 2020 elite status through next year. The company noted that any miles earned between January 2020 and April 2020 can be used towards earning elite status for 2022.
Alaska is the latest airline to permanently cut its change fees as the airline industry continues to suffer huge financial losses due to the pandemic.
|ALK||ALASKA AIR GROUP INC.||48.43||+1.30||+2.76%|
|AAL||AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.||18.13||+0.89||+5.16%|
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES INC.||42.23||+1.40||+3.43%|
|UAL||UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC.||48.41||+2.34||+5.08%|
United announced Wednesday that it plans to furlough 16,000 of its employees in October if Congress is unable to reach an agreement on a new round of stimulus before the $25 billion bailout package passed in March expires.
The furloughs include up to 2,850 pilots, 6,920 flight attendants and 2,010 technicians. Other workers that will be affected by the layoffs are the catering team (320); contact center employees (430); management and administrative team (1,400); and network operations center employees (180).
According to Reuters, Delta is set to furlough at least 1,941 pilots while Spirit Airlines has warned that 20% to 30% of its employees could be at risk of furloughs. Meanwhile, American will furlough 19,000 of its employees by October while Hawaii Airlines will reportedly issue more than 2000 furloughs.
Alaska noted in its second-quarter earnings report that it has been working to mitigate involuntary furloughs by eliminating 300 management positions and offering incentive leaves to pilots and early-out programs for frontline workers.
The airline has warned that up to 4,200 employees could face involuntary furloughs by Oct. 1. A spokesperson for the airline declined to comment to FOX Business on the total number of potential involuntary furloughs coming and did not say how many employees have taken advantage of the incentive leave and early-out program.
Airlines are prohibited under the CARES Act from cutting jobs or reducing workers' pay through Sept. 30. Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier Horizon Air received $992 million under the CARES Act back in April.