United Airlines’ decision to scrap flight change fees three years ago wasn’t exactly a cost-effective move — and now the airline says it is paying the price.
On Tuesday, the company announced that it had missed out on an estimated $2 billion since deciding to waive the $200 change fee for economy and premium ticketed passengers (though basic economy passengers still have to pay).
“This simple policy change has had a dramatic impact on our customers and the overall experience of flying United,” said Linda Jojo, United’s chief customer officer, in a company release. “You can book with confidence knowing that even if your – or your teams’ – plans change, United has your back.”
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The airline said that over 10 million customers have taken advantage of the new policy since it began in 2020, including 3.6 million changing the time of their flight and 1.5 million changing their departure or arrival airport.
‘Coach Taylor’ Stars in United’s Super Bowl Commercial
The news comes on the heels of United’s Super Bowl commercial, which will premiere Sunday during the big game, starring “Friday Night Lights” actor Kyle Chandler.
In the ads, Chandler channels his famed Coach Taylor character and encourages fans “to believe in their team and book a United flight to next year’s game in New Orleans, without worrying about change fees” and “encouraging them to dream big about their team’s chances next season,” United said in the statement.
The market-specific television ads will target Kansas City, Cleveland, and Houston, while Chicago and Denver will be blitzed on social media. A general television ad will air in Chicago, Denver, Baltimore, Orlando, Colorado Springs, and Cincinnati.
United posted strong earnings for Q4 2023, finishing with a near 10% increase in operating revenue from the same time last year.
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“Our plans really came together in 2023, and I want to thank the United team for all of the hard work it took to get us there,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby in an earnings release. “Looking ahead, we expect these trends to continue and United is incredibly well positioned to capitalize on them and to deliver on our short and long-term financial targets.”
United Airlines was down just over 18% in a one-year period as of Wednesday afternoon.