United Airlines Changes Cancellation Policy Ahead of Busy Summer

April 19, 2022

Apr. 18—As air carriers gear up for what could be a historically busy summer of travel, United Airlines is making policy changes for its lowest ticket tier passengers in the stated hopes of offering them more wiggle room when tweaking their itineraries.

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According to Travel + Leisure's Alison Fox, United passengers who purchase Basic Economy tickets will now be able to cancel their bookings for a fee of $49.50 to abort one-way domestic flights and $99 for domestic roundtrip journeys. For international trips, the cancellation fee effectively doubles to $99.50 for one-way and $199 for roundtrip.

"As part of an ongoing effort to offer more flexibility, United is making it easier for customers to change their Basic Economy tickets," a United spokesperson told Travel + Leisure.

Importantly, however, a cancellation actually doesn't equal a refund. Those who cancel a trip will receive a flight credit equivalent to their ticket cost minus the aforementioned fee. The company notes on its website that Basic Economy flights originating in Mexico are not eligible for cancelation after the 24-hour risk-free cancelation period.

Changes to United's policies also include allowing Basic Economy ticket holders to upgrade their fares to Standard Economy, which then offers travelers the option to reschedule their flights and select seats without additional charges.

United's policy change comes as air carriers gear up for what could be a historically busy summer period. Despite a March financial filing during which executives called the current economic climate a "strong revenue environment" and projected bullish earnings for the second fiscal quarter, the Chicago-based airline has already cut thousands of flights from its spring schedule in response to high fuel prices and surging demand as COVID-19 mandates ease across the United States.

Meanwhile, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian last week extolled the historic number of bookings his company and the greater industry are experiencing as the world moves toward pre-pandemic normalcy. "The demand is phenomenal," Bastian said during a Wednesday appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box. "We've never seen, in our company's history, the level of demand for our products and services that we are [currently]."


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