The toll COVID-19 has taken on human health is staggering. Viewed in that context, the contagion's effects on individual travel plans pale in comparison. But on an individual level, many more millions of Americans are feeling the disruption to their lives more in the form of travel restrictions and problems dealing with corporate bureaucracy, than from actual illness.
This, at least, is something that Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) can help with.
Two weeks ago, Delta took the then-unprecedented step of extending the value of "travel credits" issued in compensation for canceled flights "through May 31, 2022," about 18 months longer than rival airlines such as American (NASDAQ:AAL) or United (NASDAQ:UAL) had yet done. Today, Delta further relaxed its policies, announcing that it will waive "change fees" on tickets, utilizing those credits, "through September 30, 2022," for anyone who "has canceled travel from flights between March 2020 and September 2020."
Additionally, Delta says it will "cap ... fares for travel throughout the U.S. and Canada through May 31, 2020," even as it tweaks its boarding procedures to limit passenger exposure to coronavirus.
As of this moment, neither American nor United has fully matched Delta's move. To encourage new flyers, American will waive change fees through the end of 2021 for tickets bought up until the end of May 2020. United change fee waivers extend "through 2020" only.