US airlines waive rebooking fees for flights affected by pre-Christmas winter storm

Travel waivers provided for certain flights this week

A traveler walks in Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – A dangerous winter storm is heading for Michigan just before Christmas, but the Great Lakes State is not the only one impacted.

Forecasters are predicting heavy snow, ice, flooding and powerful winds across the U.S. -- from the Plains and the Midwest to the East Coast -- Thursday through Saturday this week. The severe weather will certainly disrupt holiday travel over the next several days.

Authorities across the country are stating concerns about power outages, and are encouraging travelers to postpone their travel if possible.

In response, a number of major U.S. airlines have implemented travel waivers for passengers whose flights are affected by the pre-Christmas storm. The travel waivers, which vary by airline, are meant to help passengers reschedule affected flights without any cost to them.

Related: Detroit Metro Airport flight delays and cancellations: How to track in real-time

Here’s the latest information from prominent airlines(as of Wednesday, Dec. 21):

United Airlines

United Airlines is waiving fees for changing flights affected by the storm, but there are limitations in place.

Eligible flights must have been booked by Dec. 18, and the new, rescheduled flight must depart on or before Dec. 28. Fees will only be waived for travelers flying between the “same cities as originally ticketed.”

Travelers also must fly in the originally ticketed cabin in order for fees to be waived.

Differences in fares will also be waived for newly scheduled flights that fit within the above criteria.

The waivers are in effect for airports across the U.S., including in Detroit.

See the latest information on United Airlines’ website here.

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is waiving fare differences for travelers who have to reschedule flights across the U.S. -- but the eligibility requirements are different depending on the region you’re traveling in.

In the Midwest and Central Plains region, which includes Detroit, fees will be waived for travelers whose flights are impacted between Dec. 21-25. Rescheduled flights must be booked by Dec. 28, and must depart on or before Dec. 28.

The new ticket must be booked for the same cabin in order for fees, and fare differences, to be waived. Original tickets must have been purchased by Dec. 20.

“A fare difference may apply when the waiver is class to class restrictive and the original booking class is not maintained in the rebooked itinerary,” Delta’s website says.

The timeline for travel waivers is shorter for travelers in the Atlantic and Northeast region, and the Northwest Mountain region.

All of Delta Airlines’ travel advisories can be found here.

American Airlines

American Airlines is waiving rebooking fees for travelers Midwestern and Northeastern U.S. travelers affected by the winter storm.

The fee waiving is only in place for Michigan travelers heading to/leaving from the airports in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo/Battle Creek and Traverse City. Detroit Metro airport was not included on their list as of Dec. 20.

American Airlines travelers in the Midwest can get rebooking fees waived if they meet the following criteria (as written by the airline):

  • Are booked in any fare class, including basic economy;
  • Bought your ticket by December 19, 2022;
  • Are scheduled to travel December 21-23, 2022;
  • Can travel December 19-30, 2022;
  • Don’t change your origin or destination city; and
  • Rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference.

New flights must be booked by Dec. 23.

Learn more on American Airlines’ website here.

Spirit Airlines

Rebooking fees will be waived for Spirit Airlines travelers heading to or leaving from the Midwest or Northeastern states who are affected by the winter storm.

Travelers in the Northeast, including those traveling to, from or through Detroit Metro, are eligible if their travel dates fall between Dec. 22-24. Modification charges and fare differences will be waived through Dec. 28 and no later.

Flights rebooked for after Dec. 28 are subject to fees.

Eligible travel dates for Midwest states are earlier than those in the Northeast.

See Spirit’s website here for the latest information.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is waiving rebooking fees for travelers across the U.S. beginning Dec. 19. However, certain airports are only eligible for the travel waivers on certain dates.

For example, for travelers coming to or leaving Detroit Metro (DTW) are eligible for travel waivers if they’re flights are scheduled between Dec. 20-26.

Rescheduled flights must depart within 14 days of the original booking date. Travelers must travel in the originally ticketed cabin.

Learn more on Southwest’s website here.


JetBlue has not issued travel waivers for travelers coming to or leaving Detroit, but rebooking fees will be waived at a number of airports amid the storm.

Learn more on JetBlue’s website here.

We’re tracking the pre-Christmas storm as it approaches Metro Detroit, and all of Michigan, online right here.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.