United Airlines Set To End Free Rebooking For 737 MAX Passengers

With a trouble-free return to United States’ skies for the 737 MAX, one United States-based airline is quietly dropping its special flight change and refund policy for passengers who find themselves booked to fly on a 737 MAX. For reservations made on or after Thursday, April 8, United Airlines will no longer allow passengers to change their itinerary or seek a refund just because they find themselves flying on a 737 MAX.

United Airlines is dropping its generous cancelation and change policies applying to 737 MAX flights. Photo: United Airlines

A trouble-free return of the 737 MAX sees United Airlines normalize its cancellation & change policies

United Airlines, along with American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, have all successfully returned the 737 MAX to service. United Airlines sent its Boeing 737 MAXs back into the air in February.

Before flying resumed, many prospective passengers were resistant to traveling on the MAX. United, along with most other airlines, countered this by allowing passengers who found themselves booked on a flight operated by a 737 MAX a variety of options.

“If you do not wish to fly on a MAX aircraft, you have the flexibility to change your flight with no change fee for most Economy and premium cabin tickets for flights within the US,” United’s policy read.

Note this is no different from the new no change fee policy covering nearly all United flights. This is regardless of what aircraft operates the flight. But prospective 737 MAX passengers enjoyed significant additional flexibility.

United Airlines returned their 737 MAXs to service in February. Photo: United Airlines

United allowed passengers who found themselves on a 737 MAX not only to change their flight. They could also change their itinerary or request a travel credit, regardless of ticket type. Passengers on a multi-trip itinerary with one sector operated by a 737 MAX could cancel or alter the entire itinerary.

A passenger traveling on a fully flexible ticket always had these options open to them. But many passengers travel on basic economy ticket types. United’s special 737 MAX policy offered unusually flexible options for this fare type.

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Overall, United Airlines is still flexible with flight changes

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines continue to offer similarly generous flexibility for passengers who find themselves booked on a 737 MAX. This is regardless of fare type. But with the aircraft making a trouble-free return to flying, both airlines may follow United’s lead.

But from today, United Airlines passengers who book a ticket type that normally prohibits cancelation and find themselves flying on a 737 MAX will lose the opportunity to cancel the flight and obtain a flight credit.

While all airlines reserve the right to substitute aircraft, finding out what aircraft type is scheduled to operate your United flight is easy. When booking, the aircraft type is clearly listed in the box displaying the flight departure and arrival times.

Source: United Airlines

As far as changing flights go, regardless of the aircraft type a United Airlines passenger finds themselves flying on, change fees for basic economy ticketholders are waived through April 30, 2021. For all United economy and premium cabin ticketholders, change fees are permanently waived.

Is this the right thing for United Airlines to do? Should the airline continue to offer extra flexibility for passengers who find themselves flying on the 737 MAX? Post a comment and let us know.