United Airlines to eliminate ticket-change fees for domestic flights in appeal to customers
United is making a bid to win over customers as demand for flights plummets during the coronavirus pandemic
United Airlines will stop charging its $200 ticket-change fee, amid airlines' efforts to keep and attract customer during the sharp decline in travel as a result of the pandemic
“Following previous tough times, airlines made difficult decisions to survive, sometimes at the expense of customer service," United CEO Scott Kirby said Sunday. "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.”
The federal Transportation Safety Administration reports that airport traffic is at about 30% of 2019's levels.
United's policy change will not apply to its lowest cost ticket option, basic economy, but the company is extending its change-fee waiver on all tickets through the end of the calendar year.
Beginning in January, United will also allow customers to fly standby without paying the $75 same-day change fee.
According to the Department of Transportation, U.S. airlines earned $2.8 billion in ticket-change and cancellation fees in 2019.
It is unclear how competitor airlines will respond to United's new offers. Last week, American Airlines announced that it will be forced to lay off 19,000 employees in October, and Delta Airlines may be forced to let go of nearly 2,000 pilots.