For the first time in United Airlines history, basic economy passengers will be able to cancel their flights for a fee. The new policy went into effect Wednesday.
According to the airline, they have “permanently gotten rid of change fees for most Economy and premium cabin tickets for flights within the U.S., or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean. You also won’t pay change fees for international travel originating in the U.S.”
But, hold your horses. Travelers are not receiving their money back. Those who need to cancel a basic economy ticket will receive a flight credit equal to the ticket price, minus the fee.
A second option is to upgrade to a standard economy ticket.
For domestic flights, the fee is $49.50 one-way and $99 round-trip, while for international flights, the fee is $99.50 one-way and $199 round-trip.
Passengers can “either pay to upgrade to a standard economy ticket, which will allow them to reschedule their flight and give all the benefits of a standard economy ticket, including premier benefits, free seat assignments, a free carry-on bag and more; or if a customer doesn’t want to rebook, they can cancel their trip and receive a residual credit for their basic economy ticket.” said a United Airlines spokeswoman told T+L,
At the outset of the pandemic, United Airlines led the permanent elimination of rebooking fees.
The $200 (or more) charge for itinerary changes, including voluntary cancelations, was eliminated at that time by the carrier.
While the revelation sparked a competitive reaction throughout the industry, one type of ticket remained exempt from the new flexible policies: basic economy.
These low fares were originally introduced before the pandemic to better compete with ultra-low-cost airlines.
Since then, they have been enhanced with many of the features that come standard on a “regular” ticket, such as seat assignments and the ability to change seats.