United Airlines is getting rid of change fees on domestic flights, as a measure to give passengers more flexibility with scheduling during the current coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, August 30, the Chicago-based airline announced that it will permanently let customers change flights for free on all of its standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the United States, effective immediately.
The new policy is applicable on these types of tickets for travel within all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is said in a media release that customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights.
This move by United is said to be in response to a top request from passengers.
“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. “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.”
Flying on Standby for Free
Starting next year, United will enable passengers additionally to change their flights at no additional cost in another way — same-day standby.
Beginning on January 1, 2021, United customers can choose to add themselves to the standby list for free to travel on a different flight earlier or later on the same day as their original departure. If a seat opens up, they will be able to take that other flight instead.
United’s previous flight switch fee for domestic U.S. travel was $200, and the fee to be listed for standby travel was $75; however, the carrier’s Basic Economy cabin is not included in this new policy but with the pandemic its change fees have been waved.
Southwest Airlines has preceded United in not charging change fees, even before the pandemic hit.
Extending More Waivers
United is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through the end of 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee and applying to both domestic and international ticket types issued after March 3, 2020.
For MilagePlus members, United will waive 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. On January 1, 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.
Michele Herrmann develops guides on U.S. and international destinations and writes about travel trends, food and culture for various print and digital media outlets and travel companies.