United Airlines first announced it was permanently dropping change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., effective immediately. This was followed on Monday afternoon when both American Airlines and Delta said they would also be getting rid of change fees.
The new change fee policy applies to all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 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. 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 U.S. and to and from international destinations beginning on January 1, 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 on 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. Further, beginning January 1, 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 January 2022. United also reduced thresholds for Premier qualification by 50 percent for each status level, to make reaching an even higher status tier easier.
American Airlines has gotten rid of change fees for all domestic and short-haul international flying on Premium Cabin, and most Main Cabin fares will be eliminated. This means there will be no fees for those flying to any of the 50 states, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. American will also allow customers to keep the full value of their original tickets if they change their travel plans prior to the scheduled travel. Although customers will have to pay the fare difference for a new flight, customers will not lose their ticket value if the new flight is less expensive. (For example, if a customer paid $500 for their flight and change to a flight that costs $300, American will give the customer a $200 voucher to use for a future trip.)
Additionally, all customers will have the ability to fly standby on earlier flights for the same destination on the same day at no charge starting October 1, 2020.
American is also enhancing Basic Economy fares, now allowing customers to purchase products to enhance their travel experience. Customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets on October 1, 2020, and beyond will be able to purchase upgrades, priority boarding, Preferred/Main Cabin Extra seats and same-day confirmed flight changes.
Later this fall, members who have achieved Elite status with the AAdvantage program will receive the benefits they’re accustomed to no matter the ticket they purchase. In addition to enjoying Priority Access/Preferred Boarding, our elite members who purchase a Basic Economy fare will now be able to access their upgrade privileges; elite seat privileges, including access to Main Cabin Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats; and same-day confirmed flight change benefit.
Effective January 1, 2021, Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn elite qualifying dollars, miles or segments toward future status.
Delta Air Lines
Delta announced that it is permanently waiving change fees for tickets purchased for travel within the U.S. The elimination of change fees is effective immediately and includes tickets purchased for travel within the domestic U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands in Delta’s First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin. The lone exception is Basic Economy tickets.