The past few years have been a challenge for all businesses, although it is hard to think of many that have been upset as much as the airlines. Convincing people to get on a plane to travel with hundreds of people they don’t know is not easy, especially during a global pandemic. As a result, airlines have made a variety of changes designed to relieve anxiety.
In the beginning, these changes included blocking the middle seats, the need for masks, implementing a thorough cleaning, and providing customers with more flexibility by eliminating change fees. Now Delta is the first airline to make another change that should make customers very happy to extend their tickets until the end of next year.
Usually, airline tickets are valid for one year after issuance. Most major airlines have extended that time frame during the pandemic until the end of this year to give travelers additional flexibility. The idea was to remove uncertainty at a time when people were unsure whether to spend money on a plane ticket that they might not be able to use when conditions change.
Now Delta has extended until the end of 2023 because the Omicron variant creates a new wave of uncertainty in the world. Under this change, a ticket must be reissued by the end of next year, for use until 2024.
It might seem like a small change, but it’s actually a big deal. Before the pandemic, the tendency for airlines was to make it look like they had lowered the price of tickets by adding fees for just about everything. Do you want to choose your seat in advance? There is a charge for that. Got a bag to check out? No problem, just pay extra.
And, if you wanted to cancel or change your non-refundable ticket, you usually had to pay a fee of up to $ 250. This meant that if you paid $ 400 for a round trip ticket, it would only be worth $ 150 for a new route in the future.
Faced with the reality that travel was one of the last things on people’s minds, the airlines gave in, which made change much easier. By eliminating the fees associated with changing travel plans and extending the time they have to use the value of a ticket, it has given people flexibility.
The point, of course, is to encourage people to buy plane tickets for the trip they are planning, knowing that even if things change, they won’t be the losers. Extending the duration of a ticket’s usage is important, as the recent increase in COVID-19 cases means many people don’t know when they’ll want to travel again. Will it be this year? Maybe, but knowing that you have until the end of next year to book a ticket until the end of 2024, it seems a lot less risky to buy a ticket now.
Really, the lesson here is quite simple: doing the right thing for your customers is always the right thing to do. It’s also almost always good for business. Delta is making this change because it gives customers additional peace of mind: if they book a flight now but cannot travel, they will still be able to use their ticket in the future.
The change even applies to Basic Economy fares, although these tickets are subject to cancellation fees in accordance with updated guidelines introduced last year.
If your goal is to encourage people to travel, making it as risk-free as possible to hand over their money for a ticket is simply good business. The best thing a business can do right now is removing uncertainty and doubt for its customers.
This doesn’t just apply to airlines, by the way. Anything that you can do to make life easier for your customers goes a long way in giving them peace of mind. And it’s not just good for your customers, it’s good for your business.