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United Raises Award Ticket Change and Redeposit Fees – Will Other Airlines Follow?

by on June 19, 2013 · 20 comments

in United

With no formal announcement or advance notice, United has quietly raised the change fees it will charge non-Premier members to change award tickets starting today, June 19, 2013.

As you can see in the below screenshot, three fees have been increase for flyers without elite status.

United Award Change Fees

To change an award ticket 21 days or more ahead of time if the origin and destination cities remain the same.
Before: $0
Now: $75

Making any change less than 21 days prior to the date of travel; or changing origin/destination at any time.
Before: $75
Now: $100

Canceling your trip and re-crediting the miles, regardless of the date.
Before: $150
Now: $200

The fees for elite Premier members have not changed…for now.

Since airlines seem to have a pack mentality where when one makes a move like this all the others soon follow suit, I fear we might soon see a situation develop that’s similar to when first United followed by US Airways, Delta and American Airlines all raised their ticket change fees back in May. This is also just the latest move from United to make flyers pay more since the airline also just announced a new revenue-based aspect to its Premier elite status program that will require flyers to spend a certain amount of money on tickets or a United co-branded credit card in order to qualify starting in 2014.

Here’s a rundown of what the other legacy airlines will charge you to change your award ticket.

AMERICAN

Change to Origin/Destination Change to Travel Dates (21+ days) Canceling or Recrediting
General Member $150 $0 if origin/destination remain same, otherwise $75 $150
Gold $150 $0 $150
Platinum $150 $0 $150
Executive Platinum $0 $0 $0

Anyone can change an award (change carriers for example) for free as long as it is done 21+ days in advance and the origin and destination remain the same. A $150 charge will apply for a confirmed change to an eligible origin or destination on a MileSAAver award. A $75 charge will apply for a confirmed change to the date on an AAdvantage MileSAAver and AAnytime award ticket if the change results in a new outbound travel date that is within 21 days of the original booking date.

DELTA

Change 3+ days Change Under 3 Days Canceling or Recrediting
General Member $150 Not allowed $150
Silver $150 Not allowed $150
Gold $150 Not allowed $150
Platinum $0 Not allowed $0
Diamond $0 Not allowed $0

Award Tickets must be reissued at least 72 hours prior to scheduled departure time. Miles for Award Travel are nonrefundable for flights canceled or changed within 72 hours of the original flight departure time. However, I’ve had this rule overridden several times, so it never hurts to ask!

UNITED

Change 21+ Days Change Under 21 Days Canceling or Recrediting
General Member $75 $100 $200
Silver $0 $50 $125
Gold $0 $25 $100
1K/Global Services $0 $0 $0

US AIRWAYS

Change 21+ Days Change Under 21 Days Canceling or Recrediting
General Member $150 $150 $150
Silver $150 $150 $150
Gold $150 $150 $150
Platinum $150 $150 $150
Chairman’s Preferred $0 $150 $0

As you can see, by far American has the best award ticket change fees for those changing 21+ days out since only non-elites have to pay and the fee is just $75, well below that of the other airlines now that United has upped their fee to $100. Though when it comes to canceling an award and redepositing miles, American is pretty much on a par with the others for non-elites (except United now that their fee is $200 – $50 above all the others). When it comes to the cancellation/redeposit fees on award tickets, United elites still have it better than most since mid-tier elites get (small) discounts on the fee.

Although the United changes won’t affect elites, one demographic it will affect is those consumers who carry a United co-branded credit card like the MileagePlus Explorer in order to get para-elite benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding, as well as those who carry one of Chase’s premium Ultimate Rewards cards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold and Ink Plus (remember the bonus on these two is up to 60,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months for this week only) and who want to transfer points to United miles so they can book award tickets on the airline. While that’s still a great option to have, if you want to make any changes to your tickets once you do book them, it’s going to be more expensive to do so now.

Hat tip: Hack My Trip.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Steve

    “As you can see, by far American has the best award ticket change fees for those changing 21+ days out since only non-elites have to pay and the fee is just $75, well below that of the other airlines now that United has upped their fee to $100.”

    Unless I am mistaken, from your tables American and United now have the exact same policy for changing 21+ days out ($75, 0, 0, 0). United’s fee is $100 for changes within 21 days, per your post.

  • thepointsguy

    The chart is only for changes in origin/destination. If you don’t change them- just dates/routes American doesn’t charge a fee 21+ days out

  • Fv Ille

    Long gone are the days of booking an award trip just to get there and then changing the dates/times to get a more preferred date/time. It’s really just BS that they do this. They don’t offer that many seats and then you’re forced to book a flight just so you know you can actually get there and then when they finally open up availability and you can change now you get hit with a big ass fee.

    And this to boot – http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/united-americas-worst-airline-no-toilet-paper/

    I had to fly home urgently from Hawaii earlier this year while travelling on an award and it was practically cheaper to just rebook than to pay the change fee. Friggin ridiculous.

    If they want the fees fine but how about they open up some more award availability several months out so those of us who have jobs and have to plan a trip several months or a year out can actually use the miles!

  • Kelvin

    The information you have for American is confusing. The chart shows that general members have to pay a $75 change fee if the change is 21 or more days out, but the text below the chart reads “Anyone can change an award for free as long as it’s done 21+ days in advance”

    Can general members make a change 21+ days in advance without paying the fee?

    Hopefully CitiBank won’t allow American to add this fee if it’s not currently charged. I use my United Chase card for most business purchases and this new fee by United has really lowered the value of the Chase card to me since I very often make changes to award tickets 21+ days in advance. If American doesn’t charge a fee to general members it will be much better for me to move most of my spending to my Citi AAdvantage card. I got this card for the sign-up bonus but rarely use it, but it may need to become my main card and I may not need to keep the United card once the fee is due.

  • thepointsguy

    As long as origin/destination remain the same- you can change date/carrier for free 21+ days out. If you change the origin/destination you ways pay if you don’t have status

  • Poley King

    When will the other carriers match? Tomorrow maybe?

  • Akrach

    I’ve got the United Club Card Visa from Chase that allows me to book award tickets at less than 21 days out with no close-in booking fee. I find this to be one of the best benefits. Anyone have any ideas about if this will hold true?

  • phil

    If I already have booked something and want to change it (> 21 days prior), I don’t have to pay right. I assume I get grandfathered in?

  • vortix

    Correct – this change is in place for award tickets booked starting today.

  • vortix

    No…it would likely take longer than that to update the IT systems and notify CSRs of the change.

  • Charlie

    Hopefully Chase gets a price break on new mile purchases from UAL since their value just went down a bit. In the past I’ve booked the long business and first class overseas segments well in advance, and tacked on some garbage flight times or coach connections as placeholders while waiting for domestic F award seats on decent connections to become available.

    Mileage Plus goes downhill. Sad.

  • kai

    How many times can we change it w/o fee for no status members if we ticketed before today? just once?

  • thepointsguy

    You can change it unlimited times as long as it is 21+ days prior to departure and the origin/destination and routing remain the same

  • thepointsguy

    Haven’t heard anything otherwise, so at this point I’d bet that the benefit stays in place

  • Oliver

    Any idea on the case that a non-elite member A books two award tickets for himself and an elite member B. I assume B should be able to see the reservation in his account after it’s confirmed, right? Then when B makes some changes on the award tickets, does he need to pay the extra fees? Thanks :)

  • Pingback: United Increases Award Ticket Changes for Non-Premier Members as of 19-Jun-2013 - Page 7 - FlyerTalk Forums

  • kai

    When i called their res line they said just once. i would assume once i make that change it will have a new ticket date thus making the ticket date under the new pricing scheme. Has anyone tried that it would be unlimited # of times for tickets booked prior to today for non status members?

  • Bob

    Two questions:

    1) What happens if United changes flights? Is one subject to this fee structure?

    2) What happens if a partner airline changes flights?

    The reason I am asking is that both things are out of the control of the award ticket holder, and to have one’s flights moved around AND get docked fees when you book far in advance reduces interest in being loyal to any airline…

  • Mikey

    What is defined as a change? Anything? If I were to book JFK-LHR on UA 1/16/2014 and wanted to change that to JFK-FRA on LH but keep the same date I will pay the 75$ fee? Does any type of change require the fee be paid? i.e., time, date, carrier, location?

  • kai

    I made one change on the ticket w old issue date, no longer able to make add’l changes online, forced to call it in and rep has problems making add’l changes. they will not allow me to make add’l changes w/o any fees

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