The novel coronavirus has infected nearly 1.1 million people worldwide and claimed more than 58,000 lives. It's a pandemic of tragic proportions; next to the toll it's taken on human health, the damage coronavirus has wreaked on travel plans probably pales in comparison.  

That still doesn't make unraveling the mess COVID-19 has made of our travel plans a whole lot of fun.

Delta airplane in flight.

Image source: Delta Air Lines.

Airlines seem to be modifying plans for compensating travelers for canceled flight plans on a nearly daily basis. Up until recently, though, the three major legacy carriers, Delta Air Lines (DAL -0.71%), American Airlines Group (AAL -0.72%), and United Airlines Holdings (UAL 0.55%) had all settled upon roughly the same policy:  

So long as you purchased your tickets in March or April 2019, and planned to travel sometime between March and May, it would be possible to cancel your flight, receive a travel credit, and use that credit to book a different flight departing no later than December 31, 2020.

On Friday, Delta Air Lines broke from this consensus -- in a good way.

Explaining that "in these times of rapid change," it understands that "you want the value of your ticket to be secure and redeemable for a longer period" than just through the end of this year, Delta is "now extending your eCredit for up to two years."

In fact, explains Delta, "all applicable eCredits will be automatically extended for travel to be completed through May 31, 2022, so there's no action needed" from the ticket holder, other than simply canceling a currently booked flight.

This policy is still new, and so far limited to Delta. The company is "working on a solution to display the new expiration dates on, so [that customers can see that their] flight value is secure ."