United Airlines claims to have lost $2B since eliminating change fees in 2020

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$2 billion – that’s how much United Airlines claims to have lost since permanently eliminating ticket change fees in 2020.

In a press release dated February 6, 2024, the Chicago-based airline said it had saved customers $2 billion since waiving change fees, adding that it is the first legacy airline in the United States to do so.

By definition, a legacy carrier in the United States is an airline that had established interstate routes before the beginning of the route liberalization permitted by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.

According to United, more than 10 million of its customers have changed flights without paying change fees since the airline’s policy came into effect in 2020. 

Since that time:

  • 3.6 million people switched the time of day of their flight;
  • 1.8 million people extended their trip altogether;
  • 1.5 million people chose to fly to or from a different airport;
  • 300,000 people changed from a domestic flight to an international one, or vice-versa

The airline said that the number of people who changed flights themselves via United’s app has doubled.

“This simple policy change has had a dramatic impact on our customers and the overall experience of flying United,” Linda Jojo, United’s Chief Customer Officer said in a press statement.

Jojo added: “You can book with confidence knowing that even if your – or your teams’ – plans change, United has your back.”

To highlight and market its lenient fare allowances, the airline also released a campaign called, ‘Believe Changes Everything’. 

The campaign stars Emmy-award winning actor Kyle Chandler and encourages football fans from different states and markets to book flights to next year’s games in New Orleans. The idea behind the ad is to let people know that they can book in advance with United because changes are, after all, without fees. 

“This is about believing. Believing so hard that you book your flight to next year’s big game before the season even starts,” Chandler says in the ad. “Because believing that hard can change everything.”

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