(NEW YORK) — The next time you book a flight on United, you’ll want to be very sure about your plans, because changing them just got more costly.
The carrier has increased the fee for changing a flight from $150 to $200. The $150 change fee has become industry standard and is charged by the majority of United’s competitors. Southwest is the one notable exception, as it does not charge a fee to change flights.
“We carefully manage our seat inventory and incur costs when a traveler elects not to fly in a reserved seat,” United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm told ABC News. “We adjusted this fee to better compensate us for those costs.”
Leisure travelers that are most likely to have to pay the increased fee. Leisure travelers are, for the most part, traveling on the economy-class, least-expensive, non-refundable tickets that are subject to change fees. Refundable, flexible tickets, as well as business and first-class tickets, are most often sold to business travelers at a higher price. With that higher price comes the luxury of changing plans — without incurring any extra fees.
The increase, which took effect April 19, has not yet been matched by other carriers. If history is any indicator, United’s competitors will wait and watch for any significant backlash from the traveling public. If there is none, they may too then decide to increase their fee.
Change fees are in addition to the charge for the difference in fare. So, if a traveler were to purchase a ticket for $300 and then want to change the dates of travel, and the price had then increased to $350, the airline would charge the fare difference of $50 plus the change fee. On United, this example would run the customer an additional $250 total.
Like we said, best to be sure about your plans before booking an airline ticket.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Madison Park, Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN