When I saw United’s tweet announcing that they’re eliminating changes fees, I had to doublecheck that today wasn’t April 1st (who knows what day it is, anyway?) I mean, what?! It took me a hot second to process what I was reading.
The actual tweet was: “Best news of 2020. ? We’re getting rid of change fees for good on all standard Economy and Premium tickets for travel within the U.S. and making same-day standby free for everyone.”
Best news of 2020. ?
We’re getting rid of change fees for good on all standard Economy and Premium tickets for travel within the U.S. and making same-day standby free for everyone.
Learn more: https://t.co/35JEfYZ5ig pic.twitter.com/tBFhIsROiu
— United Airlines (@united) August 30, 2020
So, here’s the deal.
United Airlines Permanently Eliminates Change Fees
United is permanently getting rid of change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., effective immediately.
“The new change fee policy applies to all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights.”
This is incredible news and finally, a legacy airline is taking a page out of Southwest Airlines’ customer-friendly book. Let’s hope this puts pressure on American and Delta to follow suit. I think it will.
Keep in mind that the cheapest tickets, Basic Economy, are exempt from this new policy. And the term “permanent” is often loosely used with airlines, so we’ll shall see.
United Customers Can Now Fly Standby For Free
More great but shocking news: “Starting on January 1, 2021, any United customer can fly standby for free on a flight departing the day of their travel regardless of the type of ticket or class of service, a first among U.S. carriers, while MileagePlus Premier members can confirm a seat on a different flight on the same day with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket if a seat in the same ticket fare class is available.”
Customers who want to switch flights will be able to add themselves to the standby list through United’s mobile app, on united.com or at the airport no later than 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and one hour before departure on international flights.
This was one of the things that drove me nuts about airlines, especially when it made no sense. For example, I once had an Air Canada ticket for a 6pm flight from Toronto to New York. I showed up to the airport around 10am thinking I could easily switch to one of their other half-booked hourly flights but the agent wanted to charge me $75 (I believe). I told the agent it’s a win-win for them because the 6pm flight is oversold and the 11am is wide open. Fortunately, there was bad weather forecasted so she eventually let me slide when I escalated my request to a supervisor.
United is Extending Waivers for New Tickets
United also announced today that they’re “extending its waiver for new tickets issued through December 31, 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee. This policy applies to all ticket types issued after March 3, 2020 and is valid for domestic and international travel.”
This obviously gives customers more flexibility when booking – and changing – their travel plans. It also shows how much the airlines are hurting right now to continue to offer this kind of flexibility.
If you’re more of a visual type person, you can watch this three-minute video explaining all these new changes from United’s new CEO, Scott Kirby.
So what. When is United Airlines going to reimburse me for a flight to New York City scheduled for near the end of March 2020 – remember the lockdown in NYC? I would have been caught in their quarantine in a hotel room. Remember overcrowded emergency rooms and excessive deaths in their hospitals? Remember bodies in trucks? I canceled a flight due to coronavirus. They gave me a voucher instead of my money. Appeals to the airline were not successful. I am 72 years old, high risk, and could use the funds – my funds, not theirs. They received bailout money from the government. They have my money. I want it back.