Whiplash – United Eliminates Change Fees, Then Doesn’t, Then…Does?

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Whiplash - United Eliminates Change Fees, Then Doesn't, Then...Does?

Whiplash – United Eliminates Change Fees, Then Doesn’t, Then…Does?

First, United eliminates change fees. Then, they told us “permanent” doesn’t mean what everyone thinks it means. Now, we have a new change. Or a non-change. Maybe it’s just United being United. Here’s the latest in this whiplash-inducing saga.

United Eliminates Change Fees

At the end of August 2020, we mentioned that United eliminated change fees. We talked about it here and compared it to other airline policies here. United made a big deal about how this was “permanent”. In fact, the title of their announcement was “United Airlines Permanently Eliminates Change Fees”.

United Plays With The English Language

Remember Bill Clinton and that “depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” moment? United pulled that out yesterday and told us “permanent” means temporary during certain conditions and certain times. Right. It sounded like United being United, unfortunately.

Whiplash - United Eliminates Change Fees, Then Doesn't, Then...Does?
United ad on Facebook – April 7, 2021

United Re-Eliminates Change Fees

The latest chapter in this strange story is that a TON of people saw United ads yesterday with bold use of “forever”. I couldn’t help but laugh at the timing. After previous conversations with United, Miles Man decided to ask what was up with this ad. United’s explanation is head-scratching, to say the least:

There might be some error along the way by reasons of human nature.

That’s right! It was just a typo, and “permanent” means permanent.

Just to be sure, Miles Man asked United, and the response was this:

That is correct. There shall be no more change fees for domestic standard tickets.

To be clear, here is where you should get free changes going forward (what was originally announced).  This will apply to regular economy and premium tickets only after this month:

  • Within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
  • Between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean
  • To other international destinations from the U.S.

Whiplash - United Eliminates Change Fees, Then Doesn't, Then...Does?

Final Thoughts

I have to be cynical on this. We all know that chat agents, Twitter reps, and phone reps can give wrong information. It happens. In order to boldly decree policy, the agent seemed pretty sure yesterday. Now, we have United doing one of 2 things: 1) blaming some poor fool to save face / allow them to backtrack without admitting they’re backtracking or 2) admitting that anything you ask them is subject to speculation. I don’t know which one I find worse. Given that it’s United, none of this is all that surprising, but it’s super confusing.

Hey United: no take-backs on this one.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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8 COMMENTS

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Still confused. So we are now back to change fees?

    Love how the airlines and other industries went lax on all their restrictions during COVID, which we are still IN a pandemic. Now that things “appear” to be getting back to normal, they want to backtrack?

    Why do we continue to bail these companies out if they’re only doing things for the feel-good moment of standing by you during these tough times right before determining these tough times are over, or you’re no longer affecting you?

    So tired of this…

    • Mike – this is exactly why I feel no loyalty to any airline during those feel-good moments that I know will end at some point. As to where we stand:
      No change fees on anything with these routes (but not basic economy)
      Within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
      Between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean
      To other international destinations from the U.S.

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