United Ends Generous Re-faring Benefit

Back when airlines were fighting against a potential ‘Passengers Bill of Rights’ out of Congress (it seems like eons ago, airlines were seen as too profitable and distanced, much as oil companies were a couple years ago, there’s always a villian-of-the-moment) they introduced their own action plans, giving them the argument that legislation was thus unnecessary.

United’s version of this was their customer commitment, mostly vacuous statements but there were a series of policies which were useful to customers. They did allow (and still allow) reservations made with them to be cancelled within 24 hours of booking for a full refund, and now also offer a ‘hold’ feature on their website.

My hazy memory says that airline pricing was a big issue at the time, United promised to quote the lowest available fare when queried for a price. United also said that if prices went down after purchase, they’d give you a voucher for the difference on asking. That way customers were protected against buying too early at too high a price, and customers could buy with confidence.

That last policy is, more or less, now no more. Lucky points out that United snuck in a change on Friday, imposing a $150 ‘administrative fee’ for processing a fare drop voucher (on domestic tickets, international fees apparently will vary and are not disclosed on United’s FAQ page).

It’s sad to see this great policy go. And somewhat ironic, coming just as the non-airline booking sites like Orbitz and Priceline are offering their own (albeit weak) pricedrop guarantees.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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