On Aug. 30, United Airlines announced that they’re permanently eliminating change fees for all domestic U.S. travel (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), effective immediately, Uproxx reports. That means passengers with Standard Economy and Premium Cabin tickets won’t have to pay change fees—and beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, domestic and international travelers can switch flights and add themselves on standby on the same day as their original itinerary.
However, there’s one caveat: Basic Economy tickets are excluded from United’s new policy. International flights are also not included.
Prior to this, the fee for flight changes for U.S. travel was $200, in addition to paying the fare difference. To be added to a standby list, you had to pay a $75 fee.
“When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request,” United CEO Scott Kirby said. “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.”
A day after United announced its policy, Delta followed suit and also revealed that it would drop change fees. Domestic travel in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands is included in Delta’s policy, for First Class, Premium Select, Comfort+, and Main Cabin ticketholders. Basic Economy aren’t included in Delta’s policy either.
American Airlines hasn’t eliminated change fees and Southwest has never had change fees.
Change fees are a major way that airlines collect money. According to USA Today, in 2019, United made $625 million in ticket change fees, only second to Delta and American. United made another $113.4 million during the first three months of 2020, but the number soon dropped since the airline began waiving fees in early March.