United Airlines is permanently getting rid of change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the USA, effective immediately. In addition, starting on 1 January 2021, any United customer can fly standby for free on a flight departing the day of their travel regardless of the type of ticket or class of service, a first among US carriers, while MileagePlus Premier members can confirm a seat on a different flight on the same day with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket if a seat in the same ticket fare class is available.
United is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through to 31 December 2020 to permit unlimited changes with no fee. This policy applies to all ticket types issued after 3 March 2020 and is valid for domestic and international travel.
“Change is inevitable these days – but it is how we respond to it that matters most,” said Scott Kirby, Chief Executive, United Airlines, in a video message to customers. “When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request. Following previous tough times, airlines made difficult decisions to survive, sometimes at the expense of customer service. United Airlines won’t be following that same playbook as we come out of this crisis. Instead, we are taking a completely different approach – and looking at new ways to serve our customers better.”
The new change fee policy applies to all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the 50 US states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, and customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights.
Additionally, United is giving customers more flexibility to change their flights on the day of their travel so they can head home if a meeting ends earlier or enjoy a few more hours on vacation. With the ability to list for same-day standby for free, customers will now have an option to take a different flight with the same origin and destination airports as their original itinerary if space is available at departure. This enhanced option will be available to all customers for travel within the USA and to and from international destinations beginning on 1 January 2021. Customers who want to switch flights will be able to add themselves to the standby list through United’s mobile app, on united.com, or at the airport no later than 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and one hour before departure for international flights.
The carrier is also improving the travel experience for its MileagePlus members including waiving all redeposit fees on award travel for flights changed or cancelled more than 30 days before departure and allowing all MileagePlus Premier members to confirm a different flight on the day of their travel. As a way to thank MileagePlus Premier members for their loyalty, beginning 1 January 2021, all Premier members will be able to confirm a seat for free on a different flight with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket. This expanded option will allow MileagePlus Silver members and above to confirm a new seat in the same ticket fare class if space is available. Earlier this year, United announced that it will extend status for MileagePlus Premier and Global Services members through to January 2022. United also reduced thresholds for Premier qualification by 50% for each status level.
For more information on United’s new flexible travel policies, visit www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/change-fee.html.
In addition to these more flexible options, earlier this year United Airlines began to roll out United CleanPlus: the company’s commitment to putting health and safety at the forefront of the entire customer experience, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness. United partnered with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to help guide its United CleanPlus policies and practices. Several of the airline’s precautionary measures to further ensure a cleaner environment include:
- Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hubs and other airports throughout the airline’s system
- Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
- Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand six feet apart
- Becoming the first airline in the world to roll out touchless check-in capabilities for customers with bags
At the Gate
- Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
- Providing hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes to customers
- Rolling out Clorox Total 360 Electrostatic Sprayers in select markets to disinfect gate areas at United’s hub airports
- Enabling customers to self-scan boarding passes
- Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the aircraft to the front
- Introduced real-time seat assignment update text and email notifications
- Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft prior to flight
- Running high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters on all mainline aircraft from boarding through to deplaning
- Disinfecting high-touch areas – such as tray tables and armrests – prior to boarding
- Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
- Deplaning in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
- Providing onboard items including pillows and blankets on request