A new fare type on flights to Japan may look like United Airlines is experimenting with the return of change fees, but that is not the case United has assured Live And Let’s Fly.
United Airlines Says Change Fees Are Not Returning On Non-Basic Economy Class Fares
Jason Rabinowitz noticed that United is offering an “Economy (non-changeable)” and reasonably speculated whether it is a step beyond “Basic Economy.”
Looks like @united is screwing with Basic Economy, calling it “Economy (non-changable)” in some markets. It returns even if the “Shows Basic Economy fares” toggle is off
It comes with seat & carry-on bag (Basic doesn’t) and it’s very easy to accidentally choose it if not careful pic.twitter.com/xcxFmD1us7
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) October 27, 2022
This fare option was not shown concurrently with basic economy and it includes a seat assignment, two checked bags, and a carry-on bag. Furthermore, it was not booked in basic economy (N class on United) but in the same fare class as cheap non-basic economy class tickets.
I asked United Airlines about whether this represents a novel way to re-introduce change fees (i.e. a new fare type that goes beyond basic economy) and United flatly denied that was the case:
“United was the first major U.S. airline to permanently eliminate change fees – and we remain firm on that commitment to our customers.”
What I later learned is that the United is only offering this “Economy (non-changeable)” option on flights to/from Japan. United believes this is due to regulatory requirements governing the sale of so-called “basic economy” fares. Interestingly, both Delta Air Lines and American Airlines offer basic economy fares on flights between the USA and Japan. However, both Delta and American also offer seat assignments during check-in and complimentary checked baggage on their “basic economy” fares in Japanese markets.
United says that it has no plans to bring change fees on economy class tickets and its “Economy (non-changeable)” fare type is limited to Japanese markets only. Hopefully that is the end of the matter rather than a blueprint for how change fees could be reintroduced without calling them that.
image: Denver International Airport