While at least one airline is waiving change fees ahead of major flight delays caused by airport-worker furloughs, United has something else in mind for inconvenienced passengers. The legacy carrier has quietly increased its domestic change fees by $50—from $150 to $200 for domestic flights and from $250 to $300 for some international flights. The change went into effect on Thursday, April 18.
We contacted United to get more information about its fee hike—we couldn’t find any notice of the increase on the United website—and a spokesperson from the airline confirmed the change. A United spokesperson also gave this explanation to The Wall Street Journal: “We carefully manage our seat inventory and incur costs when a traveler elects not to fly in a reserved seat. We adjusted this fee to better compensate us for those costs.”
A few days before a furlough cutting 10 percent of airport control-tower workers is likely the worst possible time to hit flyers with a higher change fee. A statement on the United website warns of “delays across the nation’s air traffic system.” But the carrier offers no special assistance to passengers with upended itineraries. This comes across as an especially discourteous move during a difficult time for air travelers.
The small silver lining in this cloud, though, is that the change fee only affects tickets booked on or after April 18.
What do you think about United’s latest fee hike?
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