There have been many changes in the airline industry over the last couple of months. In two parts, here are the changes that United Airlines instituted in the last couple of days. I am listing first the one that makes the biggest deal to me.
United Airlines Change #1
Yesterday (HT to HackMyTrip) United Airlines made a devastating change to their fees in relation to award tickets. They did this without any announcement and it was a big negative to one of the things I have loved about United Airlines and their award system.
Before yesterday, you could change your award ticket outside of 21 days before departure for free (as long as you didn’t change the departure/arrival cities). So, you could change your departure dates for free before yesterday. I used this just last month for my family’s award tickets for Europe. It was free since I made the changes farther than 21 days out before departure. This has made things great for booking award tickets with United!
Not anymore! Now, you will need to pay $75 for any change no matter how far in advance. This might not sound like much since you are getting an award ticket for essentially free, but for my family, this would cost me $300 for a change. For international tickets, that may not be too bad. For a domestic ticket, this fee is proportionally more hurtful.
That’s not the only fee change made. In addition to greater than 21 days out, if you make changes within 21 days, it will cost you $100. To make it even worse, award deposit fees (basically cancellation fees for award tickets) have moved up from $150 to $200! Again, for my family, this would cost me $800 to redeposit the miles in case we had to cancel a trip.
How to Avoid: As you can tell from the chart above, if you are an elite member with United, the fees go down – all the way to $0 – depending on your status. If you do not have elite status with United (or you do not have a friend that you could transfer your United miles too for booking), you could also get the Chase United Club Card (I do not receive a commission for this card). This card waives the close-in booking fee.
Another way to avoid the fee (to some extent) is with the Airline Incidental Reimbursement from the American Express Platinum card (I get a commission if you use this link). If you select United as your airline of choice, you can get $200 of fees reimbursed per calendar year. You can read more about that here.
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