KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jennifer Colles was supposed to be on a flight on May 4 for South Carolina, but contracted COVID-19.
"I called Delta the very next day," Colles said. "There's no way I'll be able to make this flight. I'm sick. We need to do a refund or we need to do a e-credit thing, and that's fine."
She read Delta's policy, which states that passengers can cancel tickets for free if they were bought prior to April 30 – which Colles did – and that Delta will not charge any change fees.
"Then they wanted to charge me $101 per ticket per cancellation fee," Colles said, "and I'm like, 'Why are you going to charge me $101 per ticket if I have COVID, and I'm calling you honestly telling you I have COVID and there's no way I can go?'"
Colles still doesn't know if Delta will charge her that cancellation fee. The airline told her they refunded her tickets, but the funds have yet to show up in her bank account.
She didn't purchase travel insurance because she thought she was covered under Delta's policy.
But travel agents like Mark Ebbitts, president of Shelton Travel Service, recommend the insurance just to be safe.
"As of right now, it does cover for those type of change fees and refunds, but the insurance companies are thinking about changing that policy," Ebbitts said. "So if you do take out the insurance and get COVID, they give you a future credit with no questions asked.
Now all the major airlines like Southwest, Delta, American and United are easier to work with because they eliminated change fees, for the most part, according to Ebbitts.
American announced last year it eliminated change fees on most flights, but Basic Economy tickets bought after April 1 of this year are non-changeable or refundable.
Southwest has never charged change fees. Passengers could cancel their trip 10 minutes before the plane takes off and still receive the full refund or credit.
"They are giving you the flexibility to go into 2022 to reschedule your travel," Ebbitts said. "And hopefully, if you've canceled because of a sickness, you'll be able to reschedule that sometime in the next year, or year and a half really, till the end of 2022."
Colles said she called Delta's corporate office and hung up because there was a nine-hour wait.
Ebbitts said working with a travel agency might make this easier because they deal with airlines and hotels all the time and they have the right contacts.
When contacted by 41 Action News, a Delta spokesperson said they advise "anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 not go to the airport directly until they are cleared by a medical professional."
"The customer should be able to make changes to their reservation through the Fly Delta app and My Trips on delta.com," the spokesperson said via email. "More information about our change and cancellation policies are available on delta.com."