United Airlines Gets Rid or Ticket Change Fees
The travel industry is still suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even as travel demand has improved in recent months, it is still far off the 2019 pace. So United and other airlines are trying desperately to convince people to start flying again.
United has already extended elite status through 2022 and reduced requirements for getting status. It is also offering change-fee waivers since the pandemic has added a never seen before uncertainty to travel, both international and domestic. Now United has said it is permanently scrapping change fees.
The carrier announced Sunday that it is getting rid of change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., effective immediately. And starting on January 1, 2021, any United customer can fly standby for free on a flight departing the day of their travel regardless of the type of ticket or class of service, a first among U.S. carriers, while MileagePlus Premier members can confirm a seat on a different flight on the same day with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket if a seat in the same ticket fare class is available.
United is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through December 31, 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee. This policy applies to all ticket types issued after March 3, 2020 and is valid for domestic and international travel.
The new change fee policy applies to all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights.
There is also good news for MileagePlus members booking award fares. United is waiving all redeposit fees on award travel for flights changed or cancelled more than 30 days before departure and allowing all MileagePlus Premier members to confirm a different flight on the day of their travel. Beginning January 1, 2021, all Premier members will be able to confirm a seat for free on a different flight with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket. This expanded option will allow MileagePlus Silver members and above to confirm a new seat in the same ticket fare class if space is available. Full details can be found here.
This is a positive development from United and hopefully more airlines follow the same path. The airline says that this is permanent, but we’ll see if that’s the case when travel fully rebounds. For now though, travelers can enjoy the no fee changes. One downside is that you will no longer receive the fare difference when moving to a lower cost ticket.
Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, also teased with more “exciting new announcements in the weeks to come.”