United Airlines Raises Ticket Change Fee To $150

United Airlines announced today that they are raising their ticket change fee to $150—up from $100, “in an effort to combat high fuel costs.”

The airline also added a Saturday night stay requirement “on all tickets where it competes head-to-head with other legacy carriers,” according to a statement emailed to USAToday.

“In an environment where fuel prices are averaging almost $120 a barrel, we are facing a cost increase of more than $2 billion this year and that is more than twice the operating earnings we generated last year,” the spokeswoman said in the statement Sunday.

“Making these changes is another example of how we need to continue to adapt to today’s tough market realities and find new ways to generate revenue.”

United: Changing your ticket will now cost $150 [Reuters]
(Photo:Ben Popken)


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  1. rmz says:

    In an environment where fuel prices are averaging almost $120 a barrel, we are facing a cost increase of more than $2 billion this year and that is more than twice the operating earnings we generated last year

    If that’s true, can we expect another bankruptcy/bailout this year?

  2. ideagirl says:

    I understand the cost of doing business for airlines is out of control right now, but with the economy the way it is, the airlines are going to price people right out of their vacations.

    We have made an annual trip to Hawaii every year for the last nine years, but this year we are staying on the mainland and taking a train trip. The air fare, combined with all the new fees, is just too high. It used to be my greatest cost on a trip to the islands was the car rental, but at this point it is the plane tickets. On top of that, I *almost* booked us a trip this spring on Aloha, but backed off at the last minute. Boy, we would have been screwed on that deal…

  3. arcman001 says:

    Tax cat would have really cushioned the blow on this one…

  4. Norcross says:

    All things being equal, I am suprised that airfares are as cheap as they are. Considering all the things involved (mileage, fuel cost, labor, etc), I think a flight would be closer to $600 – $1000.

  5. AaronC says:

    I thought airlines were charging customers directly for cost. Wasn’t there a big discrepancy between ticket price and actuall flight cost earlier this year? If they are charging us directly, why raise the price of a seperate fee?

  6. snazz says:

    i can clearly see how changing your ticket would result in them expending more fuel and needing to pass extra surcharge on to the customer

  7. JollyJumjuck says:

    Soon, only the ultra-rich will be able to afford to fly for pleasure in their private jets…

  8. copious28 says:

    wow…i like how everything is about the price of oil. In 2001, it was all about 9/11. Werent the fuel surcharges enough? Dont you think that raising those fees makes more sense? And what happens when oil falls (it could) back down to $80-$90 a barrel? Does that mean they will lower fees?

  9. jchabotte says:



    Especially when airlines originally developed as a means for the well-off, and will soon return from whence they came.

  10. SkokieGuy says:

    @snazz: Maybe after another goverment bailout, United will be able to replace their aging fleet of fossil fuel powered computer systems.

    Of course the real reason for all these fees is the growth of online comparison tools. The airlines can claim their airfares are competitive, but create defacto rate increases the the use of surcharges.

    To me the bigger fear is airlines cancelling flights at the last minute because of less than full bookings, not being economical with fuel costs. Plan a trip with no real guarantee that the flight will actually occur.

    The airlines are joining the ranks of the hotel, car rental and dining industries where a reservation, (even secured by credit card), is merely a ‘request’, not a guarantee.

  11. youbastid says:

    At what point does the government step in and consider this price gouging? They’re already making a profit on the disparity in fuel prices with the per-ticket surcharges. This is just disgusting.

  12. AnderBobo says:

    I’m pricing tix for a trip to Australia right now and they are 1500 bucks.

  13. Mr. Cynical says:

    If the airlines are this unhappy with profit loss, why aren’t their lobbyist’s trying to get us out of Iraq, which may help stabilize oil prices, which would revive their profits?

  14. AndyDuncan says:

    And the airlines wonder why people hate them. Hiding the cost of doing business in “gotcha” places is just a way to raise fares without raising fares. I don’t have a problem paying you what it costs to fly, but stuff like “fuel surcharges” (as if the fuel wasn’t already included in the ticket) are just douchey marketing gimmicks.

  15. JerseyJarhead says:

    How in the hell does a changed ticket cause United’s fuel costs to increase? Short answer? Not at all.

    This is a classic United Airlines fuck-story, a non-sequitur, and a blatant ripoff that is unrelated to the issue of high – and rising – fuel prices, which is a genuine issue.

    Once again these assholes have to be dishonest rather than just raise prices based on legitimate market costs.

    Fuck United Airlines. Don’t fly em.

    See also http://www.untied.com

  16. plustax says:

    I had an issue last year where I had a flight from LAX to SFO that I paid $96. I had to cancel my plans at the last minute and called the airline about what my options were. I was told If I wanted to exchange these tickets for something else in the future I’d owe the airline $4 due to the $100 change fee. The CSR quietly told me to back away from the phone and let the tickets expire unused to avoid the real mess that could have occured if I actually sought to change these tickets.

  17. Troas says:

    [www.reuters.com] – A link to the Reuters article mentioned above (the link given was to a picture on flickr)

  18. shocker says:

    “Making these changes is another example of how we need to continue to adapt to today’s tough market realities and find new ways to generate revenue.”

    Sounds like they aren’t adapting at all, but rather forcing it on the consumer.

  19. synergy says:

    Um. If you’re not on the plane then your weight isn’t increasing the required fuel. Why should you then pay a fee for gas increase?? I can understand if they say it’s to dissuade constant flight changes, but saying the fee is going towards paying for fuel is crap.

  20. JiminyChristmas says:

    Enough with the BS fees and the bogus explanations. If fuel costs are up, raise the fares accordingly. Don’t gouge people for crap like checking a second bag, changing a ticket, etc. etc. Damn, if you had to rebook a ticket for a minor traveling alone with two checked bags the fees could easily equal the ticket price.

  21. neithernor says:

    I’m confused… are the United customer-service offices powered by fuel?

  22. Angryrider says:

    You know with all the money they’re making, you’d think they’d also fund the development of an alternate fueled plane. Greedy b$#%$

  23. TechnoDestructo says:

    Lovely how they try recouping the cost of fuel by raising anything except the one thing most directly related to it, the actual fucking ticket price.

    When are business travelers going to take a stand on this bullshit and call it bullshit?


    I’d laugh at that, but as long as there are one or two airlines willing to do it, they probably would cut fees. Sure, it is a non/anti-competitive enough industry for it to work the other way as well, but their margins got thin SOMEHOW.

  24. flyingphotog says:

    Not all of this has to do with the war in Iraq. Developing countries (China, India) are demanding more of the world’s supply, so there’s less to go around when the production of oil is not increasing.

  25. LUV2CattleCall says:


    My opinion: Bad bad move for 2 reasons

    1) People, such as myself, will see this as a huge deterrent from booking on United

    2) In many cases, since you’d still have to pay the change in fare, it would be cheaper to just forgo your ticket value and buy a walkup on FL (AirTran), WN (Southwest), etc…

    3) I think WNs lack of change fee may bring in quite a bit of extra revenue from last minute changers who end up paying a higher fare than the one they initially booked on, which to the average traveler seems much more fair than a $150 bend-over fee.

  26. philipbarrett2003 says:

    @ LUV2CattleCall:

    Exactly what I did last month. It was cheaper to re-ticket an entire 4 city itinerary with Southwest than pay the change/fare difference fees to add 1 city on AA. $600 cheaper to be precise!

  27. Coles_Law says:

    Give it time. In a year, the oxygen masks on all United flights will be coin operated.

  28. ironchef says:

    Virgin America’s prices are quite low. Their change fee is only $40

    So long united. You guys suck.

  29. Kevin Doyle says:

    This is just complete BS! How can the cost of fuel effect the price of changing a ticket?

    They just want to lock you in and have you pay more for a ticket you can actually change without the fee.

    I often fly on business and have to change my flights. My company will cover teh cost to a certain point, but with the change prices going up, I will only end up having to hang out longer and wait for my original booked flight.

    Airlines SUCK! I understand they have it hard with fuel costs but why hit the change fee?

  30. BugMeNot2 says:

    You guys are terrible. Aren’t you all getting $600 in “economic stimulus” in a couple of months? You could use that “free money” to change 4 tickets on UA!

  31. BigNutty says:

    Every fee added to every industry will be using the “high cost of fuel” excuse for quite a while now.

  32. ColoradoShark says:

    @snazz: I’m pretty sure you’re being sarcastic, right? I could almost see your eyes rolling back after reading that! Thanks for making my snarky remark for me.

  33. chocxtc says:

    This is just another example of why the industry needs to be regulated like it was back in the day. There is NO justifiable reason for this and because the industry is constantly bailed out by the government they are not forced to properly adapt to the changing times.

  34. stinerman says:

    Stories like this make you wonder if operating an airline can continue to be profitable given fuel costs.

  35. jamar0303 says:

    Shouldn’t *someone* be looking at trying to find alternative fuels for planes? Of course that takes away the airlines’ excuse to raise prices…

  36. bloodhound96 says:

    United is looking for more revenue to cover fuel costs. I love how everyone always says “well, just raise fares”. As wonderful as that sounds…guess what? If United raises their fares, Northwest/Delta, Continental, American and everyone else DOESN’T raise fares. United it gets burned because everyone books with other airlines because they are cheaper.

    Until oil prices stabilize, every airline is going to nickel and dime (or maybe it should be $50 and $100) everybody looking for revenue. The last thing they will do is raise fares, unless everyone raises fares.

  37. Chairman-Meow says:

    Funny how these things typically happen on the Dinosaur Airlines.

    American, United, Delta ? Go pound sand.