Airlines are scrambling a bit right now to try and lock in money from customers as they face a public that is starting to slow down their air travel. Between companies announcing that employees will no longer fly on non-essential travel and countries limiting who can enter from where, the airlines are trying to keep ahead of it.
United Airlines Makes a Horrible Schedule Change Policy for Customers
This is why some airlines have grounded part of their fleet and cut schedules to try and limit their losses. Also, this is why US airlines have offered a waiver policy to anyone who books future travel between certain dates (certainly not about customers but it is about business).
Now, United Airlines has gone a step further in trying to demonstrate how much more they value their business over their customers. This latest change is to protect them from having to refund customers if a flight schedule changes. This is one thing everyone knows – there will be schedule changes since the airlines are cutting some frequencies on routes so United wants to cover themselves a bit.
How much does @united want to conserve cash? Before Saturday, after a schedule change of more than two hours, United happily would refund you. The new policy is 25 hours. Spokeswoman said: “We do everything we can to rebook customers in as timely a manner as possible.” pic.twitter.com/BgEQ1PsyHA
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) March 7, 2020
And, this is how they are doing it. Starting this past weekend and applying retroactively, United has moved from a 2 hour schedule change requirement to a staggering 25 hour schedule change requirement for refunds. What this means is that, before, if your upcoming trip had a schedule change that was over 2 hours, you could call in and get a refund if the replacement schedule did not work. Now, United will not offer refunds unless that schedule change is over 25 hours.
That is just ridiculous but even more so to apply it retroactively. While United maintains they will still try to get passengers where they need to go in a timely manner, giving themselves a 25 hour cushion shows that they don’t care enough to offer passengers their money back if the new option does not work.
I am sure many will be filing DOT complaints and filing for chargebacks on their credit card if a flight they did not book is forced upon them (especially if it causes serious issues for the trip itself). Plus, this is, I am fairly certain, a change to the contract agreed to when tickets were purchased.
Sure, United is still telling you they will get you to your destination but what happens if that new schedule change forces you to miss a meeting or some important life event that would have been fine before?
Delta and American, for now, have maintained their smaller change amounts. Hopefully, United will be forced to walk this back also.