United Airlines is getting rid of its change fees for good on its economy and premium-cabin tickets for flights within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the company recently announced.
The only flights that will have change fees are Basic Economy.
“You may remember that, as we emerged from previous tough times, we made difficult decisions to survive financially, but sometimes at the expense of customer service, either by adding new fees or cutting the things that make the experience of flying better, simply because they were too expensive,” CEO Scott Kirby said in a video message. “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 ways to serve you better instead of defaulting to cuts.”
United is the first U.S. airline to permanently scrap its change fees, as reported in Travel Pulse.
In addition to eliminating change fees, the company said it is extending its fee waiver policy for all new tickets purchased through the end of 2020. This means passengers can change their plans at the last minute without being charged a fee.
But, that’s not all.
Starting January 2021, United will allow customers to fly standby on an earlier flight that day at no additional cost and regardless of the ticket type as long as a seat is available.
Other Airlines Following Suit
Following United’s announcement, American and Delta Airlines quickly put out statements that they would permanently drop some of their change fees as well.
“We’ve said before that we need to approach flexibility differently than this industry has in the past, and today’s announcement builds on that promise to ensure we’re offering industry-leading flexibility, space, and care to our customers,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian.
“American is offering more flexibility and ease than ever before, should travel plans change,” said American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja.
That’s right. We’re eliminating change fees on domestic and short-haul international routes and allowing free same-day standby because … things change, and so do we.— americanair (@AmericanAir) August 31, 2020
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines has never charged customers change fees.
The news that three major U.S. airlines will drop some of their fees comes as the airline industry tries to make a comeback and lure back air travelers as the global health crisis negatively impacts the industry.
Air travel dipped more than 95% from March 1 until mid-April. Fourth of July weekend recorded the highest number of U.S. air travelers since mid-March but the total amount of travelers was still down about 70% from a year ago.