United discontinues practice of allowing free changes for ‘fuller’ flights
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Early during the pandemic, United Airlines added an option for flyers booked on “fuller” flights to make a change to their trip, including moving the date slightly — or even choosing an alternate departure or arrival airport nearby — completely free of charge.
In general, this option became available when the check-in window opened “on flights that [were] expected to be closer to full capacity,” or at the gate when more than 70% of passengers had checked in. American Airlines introduced a similar program as well.
The practice continued for more than a year. For a United trip I flew this May, for example, United sent me a text at check-in, saying: “We do expect this to be a fuller flight. To see if other flight options are available and change with no fee, go to [United’s website].”
This week, I received a similar “fuller flight” text message, but instead of offering a free change, the airline reminded me of its general COVID-19 practices, saying “We’ve got you covered by putting your health and safety at the forefront of your experience. Learn more about United CleanPlus and the latest science on safe travel: united.com/cleanplus.”
So, what prompted the change? With so many Americans traveling once again, most flights likely meet the “fuller” criteria — customers only had an option to change if there was a flight available with many empty seats, a rare occasion these days.
A United spokesperson confirmed the shift, but noted that the airline now waives most change fees, so if you’re looking to move to a less-full flight, you don’t have to pay an extra fee. The big difference here is that fare differences are no longer waived — if your new flight is more expensive, you’ll have to fork over some cash to cover the difference.
Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees