United Airlines Extends Change Fee Waivers For All 2020 Travel

United Airlines has waived change fees for all 2020 travel. This means passengers can alter reservations on flights departing through the end of the year without incurring additional fees. However, if you wish to take advantage of this, you have to act fast. United is only waiving change fees if you alter your flight prior to April 30th.

United Airlines is waiving change fees for all travel in 2020– but for a limited time only. Photo: Tomas Del Coro Via Flickr

Waiving change fees on all 2020 travel

On April 7th, United Airlines announced that passengers would not incur any fees for changing or canceling reservations for flights through the end of 2020. Previously, this offer applied to travel booked between March 3rd and April 30th or flights through to May 31st. Now, regardless of when you booked your travel, you can change your flight without penalty if you make the adjustment prior to April 30th.

United SF
Tickets booked through April 30th also have waived change fees, however, that fee is waived even after April 30th. Photo: Simple Flying

United added the following statement with this announcement:

“Many customers’ previous plans for travel, including summer vacations, conferences and events have changed or are uncertain due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To help with the uncertainty around their future travel, customers who wish to change their dates of travel can do so without paying a change fee”

What if I don’t want to travel? Can I get a refund?

This is one of the most hotly contested policies in aviation right now. If United Airlines cancels your flight, you are entitled to a refund although the carrier may drag their feet. However, the refund is due to you per guidelines from the United States Department of Transportation.

United Airlines Aircraft at Newark Liberty International
United Airlines owes passengers a refund if the airline cancels your flight. Photo: Getty Images

However, if you want to cancel your own flight, it is a different story. If you booked a refundable ticket, you are owed a refund of the unused portion of your ticket. But, most airfare booked is nonrefundable. In that case, if you cancel your flight, United will offer you an electronic voucher for the full value of the ticket. Recently, the expiration date for this voucher was extended to two years from the date of issue, giving additional flexibility for when a passenger wants to use it.

United Airlines Aircraft
Vouchers are valid for two years from the date of issue. Photo: Getty Images

Why is United doing this?

If there is one word to describe the aviation world right now, it is volatile. Airlines are dealing with plunging demand, international and domestic restrictions, and health and safety concerns from crew.

United Airlines Fleet
Most passengers taking advantage of this will likely have flights in the summer. Photo: Getty Images

Most of the passengers who are likely to take advantage of this waiver will have travel booked through the end of the summer. By giving passengers a chance to change flights now, en masse, United will have a clearer idea of who will be traveling and where through the summer.

This data will prove incredibly valuable for United’s operations department. Using this information, the airline can cancel (or reinstate) additional flights and alter its fleet and crew plans accordingly. Thus, in this incredibly unclear time, the airline will get a little more clarity.

Will you take advantage of United’s new policy? Let us know in the comments!