United raises change fees in domestic markets

Hooray, ancillary fees!

Most airlines are big on them these days as a way to raise more revenue and United Airlines has apparently decided that the change fee on restricted fares was too low at $150 per change. The new fee is $200.


Ouch. Oh, and United remains out in front with their policy of charging new money for the change rather than taking it out of the fare difference if the fare went down. Not exceptionally customer-friendly.

It does not appear that American Airlines, US Airways or Delta have matched. Yet.

h/t to EEM for spotting this one.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. “United remains out in front with their policy of charging new money for the change rather than taking it out of the fare difference if the fare went down. Not exceptionally customer-friendly.”

    Was that the old CO policy? If so, such a disappointment that they didn’t go the UA route of deducti

  2. Beyond ridiculous. Hope they eventually go the AA way in an attempt to slightly simplify fares.

    1. AA hasn’t actually simplified fares. They’ve made them more complicated by adding additional rules/options on top of the underlying base fare information.

      As for whether it is greedy or not, airfares are still relatively low overall. I have no problem with the airlines offering lower fares and charging fees to change them for customers who have the flexibility. And it could be worse; there are a number of other markets where “no changes, no refunds” means precisely that. They are use it or lose it tickets in those scenarios. We aren’t quite there yet in the US market.

  3. As a buyer of the cheapest fare, in a market where it’s use it or lose it, I’ve never understood the point of having change fees on the lowest fare. Why permit changes (other than for schedule changes and IRROPS)?

    Buying the cheap fare is a gamble and I recognise that, from time to time, I’ll lose the gamble and lose the ticket – I’ll then have to buy a new one. It’s happened once in the last 50 or so trips. So, if the fare is 5% or more cheaper, it benefits me to get the lower fare.

    Likewise I purchase annual travel insurance so if matters beyond my control force a change, I’m protected. From an airline’s point of view (and I fully recognise that they need to make money) the point of these fares is to get the money in early and to provide them with some certainty for a base load on the flights. I think it’s crazy them allowing changes, even with a $200 fee – it defeats the purpose of the discounted fare in the first place.

  4. The change fee increase is a business decision that weighs the benefit of the extra revenue against the loss of potential bookings by people who may choose another carrier instead.

    And on the other side of the ledger, in response to NB, to present customers with the opportunity at all is another business decision that weighs the chance for extra revenue for the change fee against the chance the customer would simply not fly or use another carrier, thus providing no additional revenue.

  5. Well that’s why I tend to book last minute one way fares – almost always win this game that way, or buy the the day after you plan on departing – and within 24 hours they don’t charge – unless you’re trying to get out on a busy day or always want your upgrade – I would rather just get home early

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