Over the last few months, the airline industry has felt a gut punch after a sudden drop in customer demand. Prior to Covid-19, airlines had introduced a myriad of fees, obliterated award charts and also introduced cheaper yet restrictive fare buckets. As travel numbers continue to remain low, we can see that airlines are now looking to reposition their offerings to attract customers again. United, with their most recent announcement, will remove change fees. As with many recent airline trends in the US, we’ve seen airlines copy each other. In this case, will other airlines also jump on bandwagon and eliminate fees the way United did?

United eliminates change fees permanently

United announced the most recent changes over the weekend.

Here are a few snippets of what’s changing:

  • These changes only apply to travel within the US (including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands)
  • Change fees will not be levied on Standard Economy and Premium Cabin tickets only
  • Other changes apply to eliminating standby fees and more flexibility for same day changes to flights as well. You can read the full announcement on United’s website with a complete list of FAQ’s here.

The Pundit’s Mantra

While United’s move is a step in the right direction, it really doesn’t move the needle much in terms of earning my loyalty. Firstly, most of my travel is international in nature. Secondly, United isn’t my first airline of choice irrespective of where I’m flying. I usually prefer flying Delta or Alaska airlines for domestic travel. Finally, almost all my leisure travel is award travel, so I rarely end up buying paid flights when I’m traveling with family or friends.

Also, remember that Southwest has never charged any of these fees in the first place. Therefore, while United’s move is a net positive, by no means is it pathbreaking or innovative. These changes also don’t apply to basic economy fares, which are usually the cheapest and most restrictive in nature.

What do you think about United’s most recent changes? Does it make you more loyal or make you choose United over other airlines? Tell us in the comments section.


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