The good news during the COVID-19 pandemic has been minimal.
But after 6 months, here is some good news about airline change fees.
Delta, United, and American Airlines have stated they will “permanently” abolish the fees associated with canceling and changing flights.
Well, at least one good thing came from the COVID-19 pandemic. It looks like domestic change fees are on their way out. Fantastic news for travelers for sure. Shoutout to @united for leading the way on cutting change fees! pic.twitter.com/CJwJ1vjC7y
— Max Prosperi (@unaccompflyer) August 30, 2020
Goal Is To Make Flying Cheap
Please take off the rose-colored glasses if you believe this is to make your travel plans less stressful.
Of course, that’s what the airlines say, but the harsh truth is all airlines have taken a hit during this pandemic.
I’m really happy Delta are United are (finally!) getting rid of change fees, but let’s be honest: They’re ultimately doing it for their bottom limes (even though change fees are a huge revenue generator). @SouthwestAir has always been fee-less because it cares about its customers pic.twitter.com/TxOh0AFM7y
— Kristin Luna (@LunaticAtLarge) August 31, 2020
And they have essentially been waiving them for U.S. travel since March anyway.
With that said, take their corporate statements with a grain of salt.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian:
“We’ve said before that we need to approach flexibility differently than this industry has in the past, and today’s announcement builds on that promise to ensure we’re offering industry-leading flexibility, space and care to our customers.”
United CEO Scott Kirby:
“When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request.”
American Airlines Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja:
“By eliminating change fees, giving customers an opportunity to get where they want to go faster with free same-day standby on earlier flights and providing access to upgrades and seats for all fare types, we’re giving customers the freedom to make their own choices when traveling with American.”
Note the ironies that it took a pandemic for the major airlines to realize customers did not want to pay these fees and the fact that American has a Chief Revenue Officer.
Carriers Are In The Red
The airlines need to stop the bleeding that COVID-19 has imposed upon their bottom line revenues.
These fees were as high as $200 per person.
The big three; Delta, United, and American Airlines, are not the only carriers that charge them.
Their decisions put pressure on other carriers to follow suit.
The entire airline industry brought in $2.8 billion in change fees in 2019.
During the 2nd quarter of 2020, the big three lost $10 billion in total revenue.
In the midst of a quarantine, no one was traveling so the number is staggering but not shocking.
How About Baggage Fees?
If the big 3 (and others) really want to make flying a happier experience for customers, they should consider dropping those annoying baggage fees.
US airlines collected $5.8 billion in baggage fees in 2019 so it highly unlikely that this fee will ever go away.
Hopefully, the change fees really do become permanently extinct and don’t creep back into existence when the COVID-19 pandemic is finally over.