United Cancels Change Fees, Delta and American Follow Suit
On Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, United Airlines permanently discontinued change fees for domestic flights. Same-day standby and changes were added as well, though that shift will begin on Jan. 1, 2021. United Airlines noted that it was “taking this moment to better support our customers” during a time when “change is inevitable.”
Specifically, change fees are no longer applied to United flights within all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Economy, Economy Plus, United First, United Business, and United Premium Plus classes fall, additionally, under the new rule.
Change fees for United flights were, previously, $200, and basic economy ticketholders will still be subjected to change fees. Basic economy tickets that were bought on March 3 through March 31, 2020, may be altered without change fees for up to 24 months from the purchase date. Similarly, basic economy tickets that are purchased after March 31, and until Dec. 31, 2020, may be edited for up to 12 months from the original issue date. All customers who make flight alterations that do not incur change fees must pay any differences in flight cost.
Same-day standby means that any guest can wait for an earlier flight. If space becomes available, the customer will be assigned that seat on the earlier flight at no added expense. Travelers will need to stand by for all connections. Same-day changes are like same-day standbys but one step further: guests are able to confirm their seat on an earlier flight for free. Same-day changes will only be available to MileagePlus Premier members, and customers must pay for any upgrades in seat class.
Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, announced the permanent discontinuation of change fees on most domestic flights. American, furthermore, eliminated change fees for shorter international flights to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. American’s free same-day standby for all guests begins on Oct. 1, 2020.
These modifications to change fees and other aspects of the customer experience come as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect the travel industry, including air travel.