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Everything you need to know about flexible travel

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

In the past year, few things have felt certain, least of all travel. Because restrictions are always changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding flexible travel and flights has become essential, as well as making sure that your hotel and car bookings allow for last-minute changes and even cancellations when possible.

The good news: with Skyscanner’s new features, travelers who are interested in booking future travel can do so with confidence. In ways we’ll explain below, finding flexible travel options is as easy as a few clicks. 2021 can, as it turns out, be smooth sailing (or flying, as the case may be).

What is a flexible flight ticket?

Generally speaking, a flexible flight ticket is one that allows for changes or cancellations without a fee, with a smaller-than-usual fee, or another condition that makes it easier for the traveler to change their plans. Many airlines have agreed to eliminate change fees altogether in response to the uncertainty the pandemic has created.

When searching with Skyscanner’s “Flexible Ticket” option, this feature shows which airlines have changed their booking terms. The filter will only display airlines that offer flexible tickets, or hotels and car hire with free cancellation. And if you like to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, we also link directly to the airline’s booking policy so you can review all of the fine print.

While Skyscanner will always do its best to show you the most up-to-date prices and policies, it’s important to check the terms and conditions of your specific ticket at the time of booking to ensure you’re fully briefed on the details of its change policy.

Which airlines are offering flexible flight tickets?

There are several airlines offering flexible flights in 2021. Here are five airlines that have expanded their change fees and cancellation policies.

Airline Airline Policy
American AirlinesAmerican Airlines is expanding its offer to waive change fees for all dates, regardless of fare type or itinerary for new tickets booked through January 31, 2021.
Delta Air LinesDelta is waiving change fees for flights departing through March 2021 and all tickets purchased through March 30, 2021. Additionally, Delta has extended the validity of all tickets until the end of 2022.
United AirlinesOn their website, United states that the carrier will permanently eliminate change fees, presumably even after the pandemic is over. Note that you will need to pay any fare difference.
Southwest AirlinesUnlike most other carriers, Southwest never charged a fee for ticket changes, and that has continued during the pandemic.
Alaska AirlinesThrough March 31, 2021, Alaska Airlines Peace of Mind waiver covers change and cancellation fees for all booked flights. Note that you will need to pay any fare difference.

Finding flexible flights with Skyscanner

Whether you peruse our website on your desktop or mobile app, Skyscanner makes it easy to find flexible airline tickets. Simply tick the “Flexible tickets only” box (or, in the app, toggle the switch) for COVID-19 peace of mind in a single instant.

Screenshot for flexible flight search

How to find hotels with free cancellation on Skyscanner

If you’re booking flexible flights, you’re also going to want to have the option to change or cancel your accommodation booking as well. That way, you can book flexible travel for your whole trip now, and decide if it’s still OK to go later.

Flexible and free cancellation for hotels

Using Skyscanner to find flexible hotel stays is slightly different than doing so for flexible flights. Specifically, once you have completed your hotel search, navigate down the sidebar (or, in the app, tap “Sort & Filters” at the bottom of the results) and tick or toggle the “Free cancellation” option.

Booking cars with free cancellation on Skyscanner

Similar to flights and hotels, Skyscanner also makes it easy to find flexible rental car bookings that you can cancel for free or for a small fee, up to 48 hours in advance.

On the website, complete your search as usual and then tick the “Free cancellation” box in the left-hand sidebar, underneath the “Cancellation policy” heading.

flexible travel booking car rentals

In the app, simply tap the “Filter” button before completing your search, and tick the “Free Cancellation” box to make sure your results are flexible from the get-go.

Whether you’re on the hunt for flexible flights or want to enjoy some peace of mind when booking hotels and cars, Skyscanner allows you to book with confidence. Both on our website and in our award-winning mobile app, it only takes a second to fine-tune your search results so all you’ll see are flexible travel options. With the added travel stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, having this kind of peace of mind is nothing short of priceless.

Where can I go right now, anyway?

Travel restrictions are sweeping and ever-changing. Check the Skyscanner travel restrictions map to know where you can go — and, importantly, to avoid any unexpected frustration at the airport. If you’re eyeing a few destinations in particular, you can also sign up to receive email updates when they reopen.

Got a destination in mind?

Why not get your trip started with a quick search and look out for the best deals.

FAQ About flexible travel

Which airlines have flexible flight tickets?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most US airlines (including American, Delta, United) offer partially or fully flexible flight tickets. Southwest, notably, has always allowed travelers to change their tickets without a fee.

What is a flexible flight ticket?

Generally speaking, a flexible flight ticket is one that allows you to make changes without incurring a fee. Note that you will still need to pay for any fare differences; tickets that are free to change may not be free to refund outright.

What does flexible flights mean for American Airlines?

Historically, American Airlines had a strict policy when it came to flexible tickets; only tickets explicitly marked as such allowed fee-free changes. Currently, they are waiving change fees for tickets booked through January 31, 2021.

Can I buy a plane ticket without a set date?

You need to set a date when you book most flights. However, if you buy a flexible ticket, you can move the flight date and time until the ticket’s validity period (which is usually, but not always, one year from the date of purchase) ends.

Want to read more?

Whether or not you feel comfortable traveling right now, it’s a great time to get — and stay — inspired. Here are some awesome Skyscanner articles to keep your wanderlust alive: