United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby just announced some of the biggest news in the airline’s history. The company will be permanently waiving change fees moving forward—pandemic or not. This change will apply to all domestic flight tickets purchased outside of their Basic Economy fares.
Although Basic Economy and international fares will not be affected by this decision, change fees will continue to be waived until at least the end of 2020. In addition, beginning in January United will be the only U.S. airline to allow customers in all ticket classes to fly same-day standby for free. MileagePlus Premier members will be given even greater flexibility, and may confirm a seat on an earlier flight for no additional cost.
As United Airlines moves forward amidst the pandemic, their focus is turning toward passenger flexibility. In the past, the airline has charged a standard $200 change fee. When the pandemic began to wreck the airline industry in March, many airlines including United chose to temporarily waive change fees.
In giving passengers greater flexibility with travel plans, United hopes to maintain a loyal customer base. CEO Scott Kirby notes, “When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request.”
Kirby also reminds customers that United will continue to reward loyalty, “Extending MileagePlus Premier status through January 2022, and making it even easier to reach a higher status.”
According to TODAY, this news comes after United announced it may furlough almost 3,000 pilots. With travelers opting to stay home and avoid aircraft due to the pandemic, passenger levels have dropped nearly 80%. Scott Kirby took over as United’s CEO at the beginning of the pandemic. Although it’s easy to view the pandemic as a set back, companies like United Airlines are taking every opportunity they can to move forward.