United scraps ticket change fees

Clark Howard Show
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

The most hated of all airline fees. Is the fee your charge to change your ticket? And never more than right now during corona virus where if somebody books a ticket to travel somewhere, they may later say, ooh, I really don't feel comfortable going. And that's why. The nation's airlines have followed the longstanding policy of South West. With. asterisks where you can buy a ticket now. On. Any US, airline and under Their straightjacket conditions. You don't lose the money. If you choose not to take the flight, you just gotTa meet all the rules jump through the right hoops and all that. But the reality is. Bit Airlines have only looked at what they make from change fees rather than how much business they ultimately don't get because they have changed fees in the first place. Let me explain. So I. Fly a lot on south. West Airlines. Until this year when I'm not flying anywhere because I'm in. Quarantine. Because a pre existing anyway. So I would fly typically in a year. I would take somewhere twenty five to thirty trips a year. Right, now I'm taking zero. So. I had a trip that I talked about. On the show last fall that change five times before I took it and I talked about how on the big three full fare airlines American united and Delta. I would have paid a thousand dollars and change fees before I ever left the ground. But because that was a ticket on south, west at paid zero in change fees. And so it's always been competitive market advantage for South West that they don't charge change fees that other airlines do. Well now, United Airlines. Has announced that they are eliminating change fees. Not Related to corona, virus, just eliminating change fees. On. All their airfares for domestic travel except. Basic economy basic economy is the one where we hate you but we'll take your money and let you fly. That has a long list of don'ts. And all that with basic economy, they have basic economy at the airlines so that their fares look lower. Than they really are. But anyway. As on United. Or going to have no change reason that this is something that upfront looks gutsy on United's part. Because according to the fads united collects over six, hundred, million dollars a year that goes straight to profit. From the change fee junk fee because the reality is. The cost for an airline somebody changing a flight. If any is just a couple of pennies. There's really no cost to the airline is just a junk fee. And so United's walking away from fifty million dollars a month. and. What they're not GONNA get in change fees but what they may well find. Is that people are more likely to book a ticket. Knowing that they can change it later without having to pay pay change fee. Now, we'll see over the course of this week. If The. Other two full fare airlines. American Delta. Follow United because often the three full fare airlines pretty much act like tweedle dee tweedle dum on what they do in terms of junk fees and nuisance fees and all that, and so we'll see and this will. Potentially. Erode. A huge market advantage four southwest airlines if airlines just blanket. Eliminate pretty much all the fares that are subject to junk fees united did not do so for international flights, but most people fly only domestic. So it it's not as much an issue for most people but. This is a very positive change. And I think back. That the junk fee for changing a flight for a long time was twenty five dollars. And then over the years the full fare ions got more more greedy kept raising it to the ridiculous two hundred dollar point and as travel writers pointed out repeatedly. Two hundred dollars change fee in most cases is higher than the fair bid a leisure travel or paid for their ticket in the first place.

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