How United Led the Way to Eliminate Change Fees

Posted by Holly Hou on 9/19/20 2:25 PM

There’s no doubt that this pandemic has affected the world’s economy. The airline industry has been turned upside-down by this pandemic. Airlines have been continuously updating their policies to give more flexibility to travelers. As you may have read on our previous blog, airlines have waived change fees in response to COVID-19.


Change fees have been the standard in this industry for decades, with the unique exception of Southwest. On August 30th, United Airlines stunned all of us when they announced a very welcome, but unexpected change - getting rid of change fees permanently. This move makes United the first major U.S. legacy airline to do so. With low demand and fierce competition in the market, American and Delta followed United’s lead. Read on to find out what these changes mean for travelers.



United Airlines

Effective immediately, say goodbye to change fees! That’ll save you a lot as it normally costs $200 at minimum. If you’re planning a trip to anywhere in the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, you can change your flight as long as your ticket is in Economy, Economy Plus, United First, United Business, or United Premium PlusSM. Passengers must still pay any fare difference, though.


But wait, there’s more! Starting January 1, 2021, any customer can stand by for an earlier flight for free as long as there’s a seat available. Additionally, MileagePlus Premier members may be able to confirm a seat on an earlier flight for no cost at all as long as it’s for the same fare class, origin/destination, and scheduled within 24 hours of the original flight. For all other customers that would like to make a same-day change and confirm a seat, a fare difference will be collected.


In case you’re concerned about your existing reservations, change fees are still waived regardless of the ticket issue date. Tickets issued March 3 through March 31, 2020 will have 24 months validity while tickets issued between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020 will only be valid for 12 months. Any changes or cancellation must occur prior to ticketed travel date. International and basic economy fares still won’t have a change fee due to COVID-19 travel waivers until December 31, 2020.


American Airlines

American Airlines has also announced that there won’t be any more change fees for flights within any of the 50 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands in the Main Cabin (except Basic Economy), Premium Economy, Business, or of course First Class. American will also offer standby for flights on the same day as your original departure to the same destination at no charge, but a lot earlier than United as this change will start October 1, 2020. This includes domestic and international travel, regardless of the ticket you bought.


Delta Air Lines

Beyond 2020, Delta is eliminating change fees permanently for tickets purchased for travel within the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (excluding Basic Economy tickets). For international flights and Basic Economy fares, change fees are still waived through the end of the year.


Alaska Airlines

  • Beginning January 1, 2021, change fees will be eliminated on Main and First Class fares everywhere Alaska flies. Differences in fare may apply. Saver fares purchased in 2021 cannot be changed or canceled.


Alaska also offers Same Day Flight Change for a minimal cost since it is not covered by its Peace of Mind waiver. Once the 24-hour check-in window opens, you can move to a different flight on the same calendar day for $25 for flights between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Seattle and Portland, Seattle and Spokane and/or flights entirely within California or $50 fee for all other flights.


With these changes, travelers can enjoy flexibility and travel again with peace of mind in case anything happens. Should you need help with your reservations or have any inquiries, we are here for you. See you on board!


Topics: Air Travel

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