United Airlines Will Finally Let You Do This—For a Fee
The carrier is ending one of its long-standing policies.
From limiting how many carry-on bags you can bring to making you put your phone on airplane mode, there are a number of rules that airlines have for passengers when it comes to flying. In the last few years, the COVID pandemic brought about even more regulations from carriers—like banning travelers from middle-row seats and requiring masks to be worn while onboard. But not every restriction is a permanent change. Airlines are always monitoring their policies, and adapting or updating them when necessary. Now, United Airlines is changing one long-standing limitation for passengers—as long as they pay a fee, that is. Read on to find out what this carrier is finally allowing you to do on flights.
United has made a number of positive changes for passengers over the past few months.
Like many airlines, United has recently updated a number of its flight rules. Many of these changes have been significant upgrades for passengers. In Nov. 2021, United Airlines finally started serving hard liquor on its flight again after banning the service during the height of the COVID pandemic. The airline also lifted its restriction on pre-departure beverages for premium passengers at the same time. "The ability to offer a complete food and beverage menu is something that we know is important to our customers," United told CNN in a statement at the time.
And the airline is now letting you make changes to basic flight tickets.
The carrier's most recent change might be one of the most surprising to passengers. United Airlines confirmed that it is now allowing passengers to cancel their basic economy flight tickets, Travel + Leisure reported. This is the cheapest type of ticket you can book for the carrier, but it has often come with more restrictions than any other fare option as a result. According to the magazine, United's new policy went into effect on April 13 and allows those who have bought a basic economy ticket to either upgrade to a standard economy ticket or cancel it.
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You will have to pay a fee to cancel your basic economy ticket.
This major change to United's cancellation policy doesn't come without stipulations, however. To cancel a basic economy ticket, you will be charged a fee. For domestic flights, the cancellation fee is $49.50 for one-way tickets and $99 for roundtrip tickets. If you have an international flight, this cost is higher at $99.50 for a one-way ticket and $199 for roundtrip tickets.
Passengers who pay to upgrade their ticket to standard economy instead will get "all of the benefits" of this type of fare, "including premier benefits, free seat assignments, a free carry-on bag and more," as well as be able to reschedule their flight, a United Airlines spokeswoman told Travel + Leisure. "Or if a customer doesn't want to rebook, they can cancel their trip and receive a residual credit for their basic economy ticket," she said. The cancellation fee will come out of this credit, which will be worth the price of the ticket.
United said it is working to be more flexible for travelers.
The new policy is part of an overall push for the carrier to become accommodating to passengers, which could help them capitalize on increased air travel demand and beat out their competitors. "As part of an ongoing effort to offer more flexibility, United is making it easier for customers to change their Basic Economy tickets," United's spokeswoman told Travel + Leisure.
According to the magazine, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue are two of the only other major U.S. carriers that allow customers to cancel a basic economy ticket. Delta charges a cancellation fee of $99 to $199, depending on your flight. For any basic JetBlue ticket bought after June 8, 2021, the airline has a $100 cancellation fee for flights within the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, or a $200 fee for all other routes. But carriers such as American Airlines and Alaska Airlines don't allow any changes to basic economy tickets—even with a fee, Travel + Leisure reports.