April 23, 2024

United starts trend on change fees

By Bev Fearis, published 2/09/20

United Airlines has got rid of change fees – forever – on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

The bold move has prompted rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines to announce similar changes to their booking policies.

American is eliminating change fees for all domestic and short-haul international flying, which applies to flights within the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Delta is removing fees for domestic flights, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

United started the trend at the weekend when it announced a raft of changes.

From January 1 2021, United passengers on both domestic and international flights 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 for a U.S. carrier.

Customers who want to switch can add themselves to the standby list through United’s mobile app, on via united.com or at the airport no later than 30 minutes before departure for domestic flights and one hour for international flights.

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 on change fees for new tickets issued through December 31 2020 for both domestic and international flights. This applies to all ticket types issued after March 3 2020.

“Change is inevitable these days – but it’s how we respond to it that matters most. When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, in a video message to customers.

“Following previous tough times, airlines made difficult decisions to survive, sometimes at the expense of customer service. United Airlines won’t be following that same playbook as we come out of this crisis. Instead, we’re taking a completely different approach – and looking at new ways to serve our customers better.”