attention, passengers

Major U.S. airline drops fees to change flights and adds free standby

Major U.S. airline drops fees to change flights and adds free standby

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, September 2017
United is making last-minute travel a lot easier for its customers.  Courtesy photo

A major airline is making travel a lot easier amid the global pandemic. United Airlines announced that it is permanently doing away with change fees on all standard economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

The change is effective immediately, according to a press release.

The new policy applies to all standard economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights, per a statement.

In a first among U.S. carriers, United also announced that any 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. That change goes into effect on January 1, 2021.

These changes allow customers more flexibility to change their flights on the day of their travel so they can head home if a meeting ends earlier, or enjoy a few more hours on vacation, according to the airline. The ability to list for same-day standby for free allows customers the option to take a different flight with the same origin and destination airports as their original itinerary if space is available at departure.

Customers can switch flights using United’s app no later than 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and one hour before departure on international flights.

Meanwhile, United’s 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, according to United.

The airline is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through December 31, to permit unlimited changes with no fee. This extension applies to all ticket types issued after March 3, 2020, and is valid for domestic and international travel, per the airline.

“Change is inevitable these days — but it’s how we respond to it that matters most, aid Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, in a video message to customers.. When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request. Following previous tough times, airlines made difficult decisions to survive, sometimes at the expense of customer service. United Airlines won’t be following that same playbook as we come out of this crisis. Instead, we’re taking a completely different approach — and looking at new ways to serve our customers better.”