After the big news yesterday that United was following Delta’s lead in imposing minimum revenue requirements for elite status, at least for US frequent flyers who don’t spend $25,000 or more on a United co-brand credit card (this exception, or the one for legacy Presidential Plus credit card holders, not applying to 100,000 mile flyer status), comes more news a mere 18 or so hours later.
The MileagePlus program has increased the fees that non-elite general members have to pay to change and cancel award tickets.
- For travel more than 21 days out, changes that didn’t involve a different origin or destination were free. Now — effective immediately, no advance notice given — changes will be $75. If the changes are made inside of 21 days that fee is $100 per passengers.
- Cancelling and redepositing the miles from an award goes from $150 up to $200.
These changes don’t effect tickets issued June 18 or earlier, although once a change is made and ticket re-issued presumably the new rules will apply on a prospective basis (to subsequent changes if any).
United increased its change fees on revenue tickets so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re increasing the change fees on award tickets as well.
But the old concept of an award ticket — a reward for loyalty — was that they were basically hassle-free. There are still some legacy characteristics of that notion, and indeed elite retain the ability to make fee-free changes when origin and destination remain the same (and top elites, as with other major airlines, get fee free changes that involve greater variation from the original ticket and also fee-free cancellation and redeposit of miles).
United dro9ve the recent revenue ticket increase in change fees, up to the now standard $200 on domestic US tickets, and others followed. When I began my professional life it was the tail end of the $25 change fee and $50 became the standard followed by $75 and $100.
With airlines often moving in lock step so often\ it will be interesting to see if they match United’s change to award tickets (and of course it remains to be seen whether New York’s senior clown in the US senate can manage to muckrake over the more obscure award redemption rules) although frequent flyer award policies tend not to move as quickly or identically as revenue-ticket policies do.
While I am not a fan of JetBlue’s frequent flyer program, their sensible change fees combined with this week’s announcements that their miles won’t expire certainly positions them as the friendlier and easier to work with carrier.
(HT: Hack My Trip)