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Airline Award Change and Cancellation Fees

One of the biggest advantages of award bookings is that they generally offer more flexibility than cash bookings. The vast majority of airlines allow you to change or cancel award flights. Most airlines charge you some sort of fee, but some don't charge anything at all! In this post, we break down airline award change and cancellation fees for the most popular airlines.

Navigating Award Change & Mile Redeposit Fees

Award changes & cancellations are an inevitable part of travel, especially for frequent airline travelers. The more we get into award travel, the more we value flexibility. An airline's award change and cancellation policies can be really helpful in this regard.

It's crucial to understand that miles can never be transferred back from an airline to a credit card program. So even if an airline has a generous cancellation policy, your miles will be stuck with that airline after cancelling your booking. With this in mind, make sure to consider not just an airline's cancellation policy, but also the likelihood that you will have some use for those miles if you cancel your flight.

For example, United has an excellent airline award change and cancellation fees policy with no fees (thanks covid). But United miles are nowhere near the ToP of my list of currencies I have a lot of use for. So I am unlikely to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to United just because of its flexible policies.

Award Changes and Cancellation Policies

Summary of Airline Award Change and Cancellation Fees

The following chart summarizes airline award change and cancellation fees for some of the more popular airline programs. We discuss many of these in greater detail further below.

Loyalty ProgramChange/Cancellation FeeRestrictions
Air Canada Aeroplan$100 CAD for award changes
Up to $175 CAD in cancellation fees
2 hours prior to departure
Air France/KLM Flying Blue70 for changes
€70 for cancellations
Prior to check-in
Alaska Mileage PlanNo award change or cancellation fees
All Nippon Airways Mileage ClubNo fee for changes
3,000 miles for cancellations
Changes must be made before
departure of the original flight and
up to 96 hours prior to
departure of the new flight.
Cancellations must be prior
to departure.
American Airlines AAdvantage No award change or cancellation feesJetBlue
Avianca LifeMiles$150 for changes
$50-200 for cancellations
No deadline specified.
Charges for cancellations vary
depending on your itinerary;
international flights are typically
$200.
British Airways Executive Club$55 for changes
$55 for cancellations
24 hours prior to departure
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles$50 for changes
$120 for cancellations
No deadline specified
Delta SkyMilesNo fee for changes or cancellations
originating in N. America,
except for Basic Economy.
$150 for changes or cancellations to
tickets originating outside of N. America
10 minutes prior to departure for
domestic flights; 72 hours for travel
originating outside the US
Emirates Skywards$25 for changes
$75 for cancellations
24 hours prior to departure
Etihad Guest$100 AED for changes
10% of the miles redeemed
for cancellations
96 hours prior to departure
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands$50 for changes
$50 for cancellations
No deadline specified
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMilesNo award change or cancellation feesNo deadline specified
Iberia Plus25 for changes
€50 for cancellations
24 hours prior to departure.
Changes and cancellations are
allowed only on Iberia,
Iberia Express, Air Nostrum,
and British Airways flights.
Awards on partner airlines
are not refundable.
JetBlue TrueBlueNo fee for changes or cancellations,
except for Blue Basic tickets,
which are subject to
a fee between $100 and $200
24 hours prior to departure
Qantas Frequent Flyer5,000 points for changes
6,000 points for cancellations
24 hours prior to departure
Qatar Privilege Club$25 for changes or cancellations
more than 24 hours before
departure; $100 for changes
or cancellations less than 24 hours
in advance
3 hours prior to departure
Singapore KrisFlyer$25-50 for changes
$75 for cancellations
No deadline specified
Southwest Rapid RewardsNo award change or cancellation fees10 minutes prior to departure
Turkish Miles&Smiles$70 for changes
$70 for cancellations
No deadline specified
United MileagePlusNo fee for changes or cancellationsPrior to departure
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club$50 for changes
$50 for cancellations
24 hours prior to departure
Our airline award change and cancellation fees chart
Airline Award Change and Cancellation Fees

In Depth Breakdown Of Some Airline's Policy

Below we break down airline award change and cancellation fees for a few select airlines that need a more in depth explanation.

Air Canada Aeroplan

For such a fantastic program, Aeroplan really falls short on the change and cancellation fees. $100 CAD to change an award booking and $150 CAD ($175 if over the phone) to cancel an award is pretty steep. Note that these fees are per direction, per ticket. So booking a round-trip award does not save you any money if you need to cancel the whole itinerary. Also, you can expect to pay a higher fee to cancel over the phone, so remember to cancel any awards online to pay a lower fee.

To avoid these fees, you can book awards with Aeroplan's Flexible rewards. These awards usually cost about an additional 15,000 points but include free refunds and changes. Changes incur only a fare difference (if any) in taxes and fees.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue has a recently increased its fee for changes and cancellations to €70 per person. Despite the increase, Flying Blue's airline award change and cancellation fees policy remain simple and still reasonable. Charging €70 for changes or cancellations gives flyers a lot of flexibility with their awards.

Airline Award Change and Cancellation Fees

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Like other US airlines, Alaska does not airline award change and cancellation fees. However, Alaska charges a $12.50 fee for partner award bookings per direction of travel, and that fee is not refundable if you cancel.

Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca offers some of the cheapest award flights in business and first class to Europe, but its change and cancellations fees are quite rough. All changes incur a $150 fee, regardless of the change. Award cancellations cost between $50 and $200, depending on your itinerary. Short haul economy award tickets usually cost around $50 to cancel, while long haul business class awards cost $200.

All Nippon Airways Mileage Club

ANA offers a really generous airline award change and cancellation fees policy. You can make free changes up to 96 hours before departure and they charge just 3,000 miles for any cancellation. You cannot make changes to a reservation within 96 hours of departure.

British Airways cancellation policy

British Airways Executive Club

British Airways' airline award change and cancellation fees vary depending on where you're traveling from. They charge $55 to change or cancel an award ticket departing from North America. Award changes or cancellations to bookings departing from the UK cost £35, and from most of Europe cost €42.50. British also charges an extra $25 for making changes or cancellations via their call center.

It's important to remember that changes and cancellations with British Airways can only be made more than 24 hours before departure.

One interesting aspect about cancelling Avios bookings is that if the taxes and fees you paid for your original booking are less than the cancellation fee, you simply forfeit that amount and British calls it even. For example, say you want to cancel an award departing from North America that incurred only $5.60 in taxes when booking. British Airways will make you forfeit the $5.60 to get your Avios back and will not charge you for the rest of the $55 cancellation fee.

Emirates Skywards

Emirates offers two levels of awards–Classic Rewards and Flex Plus. Classic rewards incur a $25 award change fee and $75 for mileage refunds after cancellations. Flex Plus rewards do not incur any fees for changes or refunds. Not surprising, Flex Plus awards cost more miles than Classic Rewards, so it's up to you to determine which rate makes more sense for you based on the likelihood of your travel plans changing.

Iberia Plus

Iberia charges €25 for their airline award change and cancellation fees when it is at least 24 hours before departure. However, this policy only applies to flights operated by Iberia. If your itinerary includes any segments involving a partner airline, such as American Airlines, then changes or cancellations are not allowed. This lack of flexibility when it comes to partner awards means you should think long and hard before booking a partner award via Iberia.

JetBlue cancellation policy

JetBlue TrueBlue

JetBlue TrueBlue falls short of its domestic competitors when it comes to its airline award change and cancellation fees policy. Granted, JetBlue does not charge airline award change and cancellation fees. But taxes & fees aren't refunded to your original form of payment like every other airline out there. Instead, JetBlue adds taxes and fees to your JetBlue Travel Bank, so you can use those amounts towards a future flight. What's worse, those funds are only valid for 12 months from the date of your original booking! This isn't too bad if you're booking domestic travel that only incurs a $5.60 fee, but for international flights, those taxes and fees can add up.

Meanwhile, Blue Basic awards booked with TrueBlue points incur a $100-200 redeposit fee.

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Qantas is interesting in that it only charges for award changes or cancellation fees in points, with no option to pay cash. Changes cost 5,000 Frequent Flyer points and cancellations cost 6,000 points. Changes or cancellations must be made up to 24 hours before departure.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club

Qatar Airways charges $25 in airline award change and cancellation fees when it is more than 24 hours prior to departure. The price goes up to $100 for changes or cancellations between 3 and 24 hours prior to departure. If you cancel a an award within 3 hours of departure, you will forfeit your Avios but you can still get your taxes and fees refunded to the original form of payment.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Like other programs, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer offers two levels of award redemptions–Saver and Advantage. Advantage awards are more expensive but typically have greater availability and offer more flexible award change and cancellation policies.

Changes to Saver awards for Singapore-operated flights incur a $25 fee, while changes to partner awards incur a $50 fee. To cancel and redeposit your miles from a Saver award, Singapore charges $75 regardless of whether the flight is on Singapore or a partner airline. Advantage awards incur the same $25 fee for award changes, but have a lower redeposit fee of $50. The cost difference between Saver and Advantage awards is usually quite significant, so I would not book an Advantage award to save $25 on a redeposit fee.

Airline Award Change and Cancellation Fees

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest prides itself in its generous airline award change and cancellation fees policy. There are no fees for award changes or cancellations (or cash bookings for that matter), and you can cancel a flight up to 10 minutes before departure. While Southwest does not charge a change fee, flight changes are subject to fare difference.

United MileagePlus

Like other US airlines, United does not have airline award change and cancellation fees. This makes United the most flexible Star Alliance option when it comes to award changes or cancellations.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic's airline award change and cancellation fees are the same whether you're changing or cancelling an award. The fee does vary depending on where you're traveling from. For travel originating in the US, Virgin Atlantic charges $50 to change or cancel an award ticket. For travel originating in the UK, the fee is £30, and for anywhere else, the fee is the local currency equivalent of US$50. Cancellations must be made at least 24 hours before departure.

Like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic does not charge you for airline award change and cancellation fees if the taxes and fees on your award booking are less than the cancellation fee itself. For example, if you redeem Flying Club points for a domestic flight on Delta that incurred $5.60 in taxes, Virgin Atlantic will not charge you $50 for canceling that booking. Instead, you forfeit the $5.60 and get your points back.

Airline Award Change and Cancellation Fees

Award Cancel & Redeposit Charges: ToP Thoughts

Airline award change and cancellation fees policies should be part of the analysis in deciding which program to use for your next award booking. Of course, the extent to which you you should focus on such policies depends on how likely you are to make any changes to your trip. Lastly, remember that no matter how generous a cancellation policy can be, you can never transfer airlines miles back to your credit card. So if you cancel an award and have your miles refunded, they will still be stuck with that airline program.

Let us know your experience with airline award change and cancellation fees, and which program you like best, over in the ToP Facebook Group.

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