And boom goes the dynamite!
In addition to introducing spend requirements to obtain elite status, United has now raised “change fees” on award tickets for “non-elites.”
Being able to change tickets without a fee or lower fee does make me want to be an elite, but it’s still not worth the cost (for me), since I don’t travel frequently for business, and because of the new spending requirements.
As you can see, the more status you have with United, the cheaper the change fee – or if you’re Global Service, Premier 1k, or Premium Platinum, there’s no fee. Must be nice.
For non-elites (“general member”), the fees for award tickets booked starting June 19th break down like this:
- Booking an award ticket by phone is $25
- Booking an award ticket through any channel, less than 21 days before departure is $75
- Making a change 21 or more days prior to the date of travel (no change to origin/destination) $75
- Making any change less than 21 days prior to the date of travel; or changing origin/destination at any time is $100
- Canceling your trip and re-crediting the miles, regardless of the date is $200
Boo. If you do book over the phone, it never hurts to be polite and then ask if they will waive the phone booking fee. I’ve had mixed results doing this, so ymmv. It’s always best to be prepared and book your United award tickets 21 days before departure, if possible.
But if you’re booking a Business class or First class flight and it’s necessary to wait (airlines will open up premium cabin space late), then the fees are worth it (in my opinion). It’s still a great deal to fly premium cabin flights with miles, even if you have to spend a little in fees.
Canceling your trip and re-crediting your miles hurts, so if you do have plans that change, try to reschedule your flights because the fees are less than re-crediting.
Awards flights on United and their Star Alliance partners are very popular because it’s so easy to earn United miles or Ultimate Rewards through the United Explorer card (see this post for the best offers), or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Bold® Business Card, or Ink Plus® Business Card. You can get practically anywhere in the world with them, and on great metal. I love my United and Ultimate Rewards points for this reason.
If you booked an award ticket before June 19th, look at the picture above to see change fees on your award tickets. I hate to see increases in fees, but it’s life – prices increase, inflation, blah blah blah….
(Disclosure: I receive a referral credit for the cards mentioned in this post. Thanks for the support if you decide to apply through the blog!)
— Geoff Whitmore