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To win customers in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, United Airlines has announced that it is taking out its ticket-change fees, which cost $200. Sunday night, the airline said it would permanently scrap this fee in all their domestic flights and roll out more flexible rules.
Scott Kirby, United CEO, said that this move is a different approach as critics compare this to the Southwest Airlines playbook. United’s rival does not charge any change fees.
This announcement by United comes after different airlines are desperately looking for ways to revamp their businesses affected by the pandemic. A few months ago,
Transportation Security Administration screenings are around 30 percent from last year’s numbers. This reduced number is expected as airlines don’t have much revenue during the year’s top travel season. With this news from United, customers with standard economy tickets or those with premium tickets can change flights with no fees but will have to cover any differences in fares.
Take note that this policy does not cover primary economy tickets as these don’t allow any changes. This waived ticket change fee will be valid on all tickets up to the end of 2020 only. Also, United will let customers who would like to depart earlier or later on the same date to fly on standby minus the $75 same-day change flight fee.
Other Airlines May Follow Suit
United’s new policies may pressure their rivals to make policy changes as well. This ticket-change fee is one of the add-ons and fees that airline companies come up with. According to reports from the Department of Transportation, US carriers have brought $2.8 billion in cancellation fees and ticket costs.
Last year, United totaled $625 million in ticket change and cancellation fees. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines also have the same collected fees. Ticket change fees are a constant source of customer dissatisfaction.
Domestic Flights Only
Kirby further explained that when they ask customers how they can improve their services, they would also get the same response: “getting rid of fees is often the top request.” This new decision is also likely to stimulate changes in the fee structures of Delta and American Airlines and despite these waived fees, travelers are still required to pay differences in fares if they decide to switch to another flight. United will continue to charge international ticket-change fees that can range from $150 to $400.