Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

United Airlines Permanently Dropping Change Fees

On August 30, United Airlines announced that they are eliminating change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, effectively immediately. In addition, travelers will not be limited in the number of times they change their flights.

A few other important updates were included in the announcement, such as:

  • Starting 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,” an option that no other U.S. carriers have ever offered.
  • Extending its waiver for new tickets issued through December 31, 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee.
  • Giving customers the flexibility to change their flights on the day of their travel (if space is available).
  • Allowing customers to add themselves to the standby list by using United’s app, united.com or at the airport no later than 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and one hour for international flights.

United’s new flexible travel policies are very welcome in this brave new world of travel, where personal plans, entry requirements and more can shift by the hour.

“Change is inevitable these days,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a recent video that accompanied the announcement. “And it’s how we respond to change that matters most. When we hear from customers on what we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request and that’s why we’re taking this moment to become the first U.S. legacy airline to get rid of this fee forever.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” Kirby said.

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