Change Fees

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Apr 8, 2018
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#1
Company you have a question or comment about: United Airlines


Purchased an international coach ticket on United to Wroclaw Poland and to London. Departure Apr 26-Return May 5
Confirmation #Xxxxxxxx Total cost $2,769.41

I booked it the day before Easter, knowing I had 24 hrs to cancel. Of course with the holiday I got busy and didn't cancel until I saw the charge on my debit card on Monday.

I knew I should have cancelled and didn't, so I didn't even try to call United.

I thought I'd have total use of the $2769.41 for other flights (less a cancellation fee) and since I like United, I figured that I could use it for other business trips for me and my team.

I don't travel internationally on a regular basis, so there is very little chance that I would use this all in one shot, and now I find out that each time I use the credit, I have to pay a $300 fee. So with use of it for business trips in the US, I may end up paying as much as a $1200 penalty for being too busy with family on Easter.

I'm an entrepreneur and this is a very costly mistake for me, especially when I realized I can't even use it for my sales team's travel.

I am now rebooked on a different itinerary for under $900 in coach on United, purchased through an online agency. So they are still benefitting from this trip. I bought seats for another $479, directly from UA.

What's your desired resolution? As a 35 year travel industry member and expert in travel technology and business models, I know that there is zero cost to United for the 36 hour loss of their ability to sell the original seats since the flights were not even close to full. And a $2769 coach fare is hardly a discount fare that should be totally non-refundable.

In a perfect world, they would refund the entire $2769.41, which could be done on a "United only" certificate or gift card.

I do have two trips coming up where I could use the bulk of the credit, one for bringing my daughter home from Europe where she attends university and one for my family, where 4 of us are going to Denver the first week of July. But of course, UA only lets me use this for my own personal trips.

What's the value of your claim (in US $)? 2769
Date of transaction/travel date: 2018-03-31



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Note: Confirmation number edited by Moderator.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,734
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www.promalvacations.com
#2
It was not that long ago you didn’t have an option of the 24 refund policy. There are cancellation fees associated with canceling. As a travel industry member- that’s basic knowledge. You could have booked a refundable fare if you suspected you were going to cancel and you wouldn’t have had to worry.

We ALL know that there is no reason why airlines charge those ridiculous fees. They do it for one reason- to keep you from canceling.


Our only advice is to use our company contacts on top of our page and write the airline and ask why they at charging you $300 for every separate rebooking. As I understand your complaint, it doesn’t sound like the first $300 is an issue, it is subsequent repeat fees for each ticket, correct?

One other question- were you booking a flight that was leaving in over seven days? I’m sure you know if the flight was leaving in less then seven days, the 24 hour policy doesn’t apply.

When you write, I suggest NOT admitting you booked a ticket knowing you had 24 hours to change it and you forgot to do it. I don’t think that would go over well.

I would say in my letter that you can understand one fee but not a fee every time you wanted to buy a new ticket with the credit.

Read the information on the Company Contacts page carefully about how to write and escalate if needed.

Let us know how you make out.
 
Likes: jsn55

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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#3
I disagree that the airlines are charging exorbitant fees to keep you from cancelling.
I think they do it because they can and because it is a huge moneymaker for them. Even with all the canceling and missing of flights going on, you seldom see an empty seat on a plane these days.
This could also be called fraudulent enrichment in each case where the seat has been sold twice.
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#4
Airline fees and penalties are about the worst thing in travel these days ... even worse than a middle seat in coach I think. You write very well, send UA a concise, polite email and ask for an exception to their policy. Tell them exactly what you want. Airlines will not give up this incredible revenue source without government interference, so it's our job to try to save ourselves some money any way we can. Follow Neil's advice above ... remember that the person reading your email did not cause your problem and is in a position to help you. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
I disagree that the airlines are charging exorbitant fees to keep you from cancelling.
I think they do it because they can and because it is a huge moneymaker for them. Even with all the canceling and missing of flights going on, you seldom see an empty seat on a plane these days.
This could also be called fraudulent enrichment in each case where the seat has been sold twice.
There is no fraudulent enrichment— that is a legal determination (usually called unjust enrichment) — the court just recently dismissed a lawsuit from a lawyer and his wife against united and their change fees — Martin v United filed 2016, dismissed 2017, the Martins lost their appeal in 2018.

It is a combination of stopping people from making many changes and revenue that drives the fees. I know I would change a lot more if there was not a fee. And when I have bought unrestricted tickets I have changed the reservation a lot.

Not all flight are full when it is not high season or holiday time; my recent flight to London was 3/4 full on UA.

I do not like the change fees and hope they do not go any higher but unless a law caps them they are a known entity in travel.

I do think the OP should write a nice letter asking for an exception.

I agree with Neil in saying that I forgot to cancel because of holiday with family is not a good tactic and neither is complaining that they cannot be used for other people — the other people is done to stop people from selling the credits to get cash back — like people sell gift cards.

A polite letter is the way to go. Good luck.
 
Dec 26, 2014
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#6
It really pays to compare airlines that are convenient for your travel. Doing that can greatly lessen chances of making costly mistakes. For example, flying out of Seattle on Alaska Airlines I see that the cancellation fees or change fees can be very reasonable:

Same day confirmed changes $25 or Free if you are MVPGold or MVPG 75k (top tier flyers with Alaska)
Change/cancellation fee for changes made at least 60 days PRIOR to ticketed flight departure is Free for all flyers even for non-refundable tickets.
Change/cancellation fee for changes made LESS than 60 days prior to ticketed flight departure is $125 or Free for Refundable First Class or free for MVPG or MVPG 75K (top tier flyers)

Before I book a flight, I take into consideration many factors. The time of day, the number of connections, the amount of time I have for any. connecting flights, seat selection, and of course, what happens if I cannot make that flight. Sometimes I do gamble. I understand I am taking a risk though, and if I must pay a fee then I realize that I gambled and lost.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,734
12,713
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
I disagree that the airlines are charging exorbitant fees to keep you from cancelling.
I think they do it because they can and because it is a huge moneymaker for them. Even with all the canceling and missing of flights going on, you seldom see an empty seat on a plane these days.
This could also be called fraudulent enrichment in each case where the seat has been sold twice.
I don’t thing fraudulent enrichment would work. Fees are posted so if you choose to book knowing those terms, you can’t claim fraudulent enrichment.
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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#8
Ok then payment for a service they didn’t provide and then sold again.
SW Airlines pretty much proves that changing your flight doesn’t cost them much, if anything, as it can be done easily online by the pax. I would stipulate that the airline should charge if you need their help to change the itinerary.
I fly mainly SW and their flights are almost always each seat occupied. They tell us this as we are boarding so don’t even think about trying to hold onto that empty seat beside you during the boarding process.
I see that we are going to disagree on these fees so, ok. This is my last word on this subject.
 
Likes: jsn55
Jul 27, 2016
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#9
I fly mainly SW and their flights are almost always each seat occupied. They tell us this as we are boarding so don’t even think about trying to hold onto that empty seat beside you during the boarding process.
They tell you this because they don't want people trying to hold seats and creating conflict during the boarding process. In reality, 84% of Southwest's seats were occupied in 2017, slightly below the average for US airlines on domestic flights. So, the typical Southwest flight goes out with about 25 empty seats.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#10
Ok then payment for a service they didn’t provide and then sold again.
SW Airlines pretty much proves that changing your flight doesn’t cost them much, if anything, as it can be done easily online by the pax. I would stipulate that the airline should charge if you need their help to change the itinerary.
I fly mainly SW and their flights are almost always each seat occupied. They tell us this as we are boarding so don’t even think about trying to hold onto that empty seat beside you during the boarding process.
I see that we are going to disagree on these fees so, ok. This is my last word on this subject.
Unless the flight is cancelled the airline will be providing the service. The passenger chose not to utilize the service.

As long as the courts and the law permit such fees we should not be advising people that it is fraudulent enrichment.

One can vote with their pocketbook which is always good and patronize airlines with moderate or no fees or lobby for a regulatory cap on fees.[/QUOTE]
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
809
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#11
They tell you this because they don't want people trying to hold seats and creating conflict during the boarding process. In reality, 84% of Southwest's seats were occupied in 2017, slightly below the average for US airlines on domestic flights. So, the typical Southwest flight goes out with about 25 empty seats.
I guess the routes in/out of FL are popular as the seats ARE full. Besides SW doesn’t sell their seats 2x and seem to be doing ok in the market. oops, said before I was done but just can’t help myself.
 
Likes: jsn55
Jul 27, 2016
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#12
I guess the routes in/out of FL are popular as the seats ARE full. Besides SW doesn’t sell their seats 2x and seem to be doing ok in the market. oops, said before I was done but just can’t help myself.
Southwest absolutely does oversell their planes. In fact, they do it often enough that they involuntarily bump people 50% more often than American, twice as often as United, and EIGHT times as often as Delta.
 
Dec 26, 2014
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#13
I have found that SW is slightly more expensive for where I need to fly, perhaps because generally the cost of checked bags and change fees is built into the price of the ticket? (nothing to substantiate that surmise) I DO like the idea that fees should reflect if an airline employee had to interact to make the change, but I fear that it still would not reflect actual costs, but comparing airline policies overall, I prefer a different airline and find that it is usually competitively priced and works best for me, which should be the bottom line for all travelers, - what works best for them.