As the pandemic tightens its grip, United Airlines and American Airlines aim to help travelers by eliminating change fees.
The airlines on Thursday said they are dropping the fees for long-haul international flights, bringing those trips into step with their policy on domestic flights as the holiday season arrives.
The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed the airline business model, now affecting a key element that consistently improved the bottom line: charging for ticket changes.
United plans to extend its change-fee waiver for basic economy and international tickets later this year, saying in a statement the move is “to continue to offer more flexibility to all customers who travel with us.”
American said it will eliminate change fees for first class, business class, premium economy and main cabin tickets for all long-haul international flying from North or South America. The lowest-price tickets, basic economy, remain subject to the fees.
In a media statement, American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja said: “By eliminating change fees, we’re giving customers more flexibility no matter when or where they plan to travel.”
American now has dropped the $200 change fee on most domestic and international tickets when traveling in North and South America, dropped the $150 mileage reinstatement fee when a passenger cancels an award ticket, dropped the $75 standby fee for same-day domestic standby travel, and eliminated the $35 service fee for a booking over the telephone.
The CDC issued updated coronavirus guidelines this week, in part discouraging holiday travel.
Many airlines have fought the premise that flying is a health risk. Last month, United tweeted the risk of COVID-19 exposure in flight is “almost non-existent,” referencing a Pentagon study.
Most airlines have resumed selling all of their seats after initially limiting capacity.