United Makes It More Expensive For Non-Elite Members To Change Award Travel

United’s having a busy week, and it’s not even Friday yet!  First, they added a spending requirement for elite status.

Then, very late Tuesday night (essentially yesterday for us East coasters) Hack My Trip picked up on another change, this one for non-elites.  Now, if you don’t have elite status with United, you’ll pay more to change your awards.  But, don’t worry.  You have plenty of time before these changes go into effect….Yesterday.

There are 3 primary changes:

1.  For changes to a ticket more than 21 days prior to departure, the fee is $75.

2.  Within 21 days of departure, the fee goes from $75 to $100.

3.  If you need to cancel your trip completely and re-deposit those miles, that will cost you $200.

For the everyday traveler, I think the first change is the most significant.  In the olden days (you know, before Tuesday) you could shift your dates around as long as your origin and destination stayed the same. Why is that significant?

It’s probably one of the biggest things overlooked by people booking trips.  Award inventory changes.  A lot.  Maybe your preferred dates or routing aren’t available when you book your trip a few months out.  If you check back later and find better flights/dates, you can make changes.  I’d say I probably tweak almost half of the award tickets I book prior to traveling.  For the less frequent traveler, it used to be a great benefit to be able to make such changes as you found better availability.

Now, United wants to charge you for that `.  And, for family travel this is especially painful because the change fee is per ticket.  No doubt this adds value for the infrequent traveler to attain a basic level of status like Premier Silver with United.  And, there are lots of small reasons lower-tier status can add up to a big value for a family.  But, most people don’t fly 25,000 miles in a year, so this isn’t an option.

Alas, that just means United will charge you a bit more if your plans in the future.


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