US Airways matches United and raises change fees

It looks like US Airways has raised the change fees on their revenue tickets. Domestic change fees are going to $200 (from $150). Change fees for travel to Europe and the Middle East are staying the same at $250, while they’re increasing to $300 for travel to Brazil.

New change fees

Old change fees

Obviously this is to match United’s $50 across the board change fee increases last week, though I do find it rather curious that they raised the change fees for Brazil but not for Europe and the Middle East. At this point I think it’s safe to say that American will do the same, and Delta won’t be far behind either.

These change fees are ridiculous, but then again that’s the risk of booking a non-refundable ticket. And it’s something the airlines can easily get away with, since very few people choose carriers based on change fees, and those that do probably don’t choose based on what the change fees are, but rather whether the airline charges one or not. In other words, everyone knows Southwest for not charging change fees, but who knows Alaska for “only” charging a $75 change fee for changes made online, which is half of what the legacies have consistently charged up until last week?

If I had to guess, I’d say we’ll see both American and Delta match before the weekend.

Filed Under: US Airways
  1. Umm US Airways actually specifically announced these changes at their media event today. Not exactly “Without so much as an announcement”, pretty much the opposite.

  2. AA has no choice but to match (since their companies are merging)

    DL will also match since they’re never behind with any fees

    This will give LCCs more room to up their own fees and still undercut the legacies (i.e. AS up to $100 and B6 up to $125)

  3. @bmvaughn – I wouldn’t go so far as to call a quarterly earnings report a “media event.”

    SMH at this change.

  4. “though I do find it rather curious that they raised the change fees for Brazil but not for Europe and the Middle East”

    Because UA didn’t raise change fee for Europe or Middle East. US is doing an exact match to UA’s fee.

  5. I assume they’ve raised Brazil to $300 to make up for the lack of baggage fee revenues in that market.

  6. I don’t see the problem with these. The fact is that you can still cancel a non-refundable ticket. That isn’t something you can say in a lot of markets where if you cancel you lose the lot.

    Either you need flexibility or you don’t and where you do you should pay for it.

  7. @David: I’m more than willing to pay for flexibility, but $200-$300 *PER CHANGE* is pure nonsense, especially when it’s months in advance of the first departure. In my view I should be granted multiple changes for that kind of money. SQ only charged me an extra $100 for unlimited changes. AA now appears to have a similar offer in place as well. If these new got-ya fees also came with new pre-departure options like SQ and AA have provided then I’d be a lot less concerned, but so far as I can tell they don’t.

    I have a career that does not require much in the way of business travel, but it most certainly does involve changes to my leisure travel from time to time due to business related developments. That means changes are not that uncommon but that they also come out of my own pocket. Flexibility is huge to me but changeable tickets on most airlines cost as much as buying two or more non-refundable tickets. That’s a bit over the top in my book.

    The odd thing is that when I *DO* travel on business the ticket prices and change fees are negotiated below the conventional rates. So basically the market has somehow managed to turn everything completely upside down. My business flights are cheap and my leisure trips are expensive. My business trips can be changed over and over again at the last minute for very little money while my leisure trips require hundreds of dollars per change even if it’s months in advance.

  8. It seems UA has raised change for selected international markets, but not all of them. I just checked SFO-FRA and the change fee is $250.

  9. This didn’t happen at an earnings call. It happened at the media day event US hosted today.

    That the post was edited to remove the obvious bad info without acknowledging the mistake is unfortunate. Admit your errors and grow from them. Much better than hiding and pretending they never happened.

  10. Can your next poll question ask how often leisure (not business) travelers have changed their tickets in the last 5(?) years? In all my years of flying I’ve only changed my air travel twice, so I’m really curious. Just a thought…

  11. Today, at Randy Peterson’s Executive Travel Summit, Robert Crandall said he felt airline change fees (and more generally the ancillary revenue model) had gone too far. He feels the pendulum will swing in the other direction soon. He’s been a very perceptive prognosticator over the years; we’ll see.

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