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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (UA and others end domestic change fees)

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (UA and others end domestic change fees)

Old Aug 30, 20, 11:45 pm
  #1  
nsx
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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (UA and others end domestic change fees)

United ends its domestic change fees unless you were unlucky enough to book pre-lockdown:
https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...hange-fee.html

This is a major blow to Southwest's competitive advantage. If you buy your UA ticket with their credit card, you get one free checked bag. For now, Southwest blocks middle seats, making Southwest the safer choice.

Discuss the competitive effects here or join the United-specific discussion at https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unit...gone-good.html
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Old Aug 31, 20, 12:37 am
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The permanent no change fee does not apply to UAs basic economy or international flights. UAL will still make money on this after Covid ends. I think people choose Southwest for their service, frequency, and destinations. With Southwest pulling out of EWR and not serving ORD (both UAL hubs), not sure how much network overlap they have besides DEN.
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Old Aug 31, 20, 6:41 am
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
United ends its domestic change fees unless you were unlucky enough to book pre-lockdown:
https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...hange-fee.html

This is a major blow to Southwest's competitive advantage. If you buy your UA ticket with their credit card, you get one free checked bag. For now, Southwest blocks middle seats, making Southwest the safer choice.

Discuss the competitive effects here or join the United-specific discussion at https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unit...gone-good.html
Indeed. This will apply significant further pressure on WN, especially if DL and AA follow.

I get free bags everywhere anyway; it was the very generous change / cancel policy that kept most of my personal / family travel on WN.

WN has several weaknesses (terrible IRROPS handling, no interline agreements, slow baggage delivery) which I was willing to live with for the no-change-fee deal. That balance may be shifting...
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Old Aug 31, 20, 7:04 am
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Crankyflier analyzed this might be a good news for Southwest in that
- It will look as if WN has been in the leading edge, and
- If others follow, they will have to raise the fare.
Link: https://crankyflier.com/2020/08/31/u...e-games-begin/

But UA will still have its own issue such as no residual fare remains if the new fare is lower. One advantage of UA would be no standby fee.
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Old Aug 31, 20, 8:18 am
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Don't be so sure. Remember that while WN does not have change fees, close in changes most routinely result in refaring WGA because there is no inventory. UA (as well as other carriers) can fiddle around with that as well and it may be that in the end the industry fallacy is that no change fees equates to lower total cost. Not likely.
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Old Aug 31, 20, 9:20 am
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
United ends its domestic change fees unless you were unlucky enough to book pre-lockdown:
https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...hange-fee.html

This is a major blow to Southwest's competitive advantage. If you buy your UA ticket with their credit card, you get one free checked bag. For now, Southwest blocks middle seats, making Southwest the safer choice.

Discuss the competitive effects here or join the United-specific discussion at https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unit...gone-good.html
They can just make up for the lack of a "change fee" by rolling it into the overall fare increase when the flight is re-fared at the current going price. I suppose it is a nice gesture. Maybe it will be one less thing to make it so there are not always 40 people lined up at the UA customer service counters at DEN inside the gate area.
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Old Aug 31, 20, 2:26 pm
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I was looking at this WRT DL; I'm due for a few trips to SLC soon and now that I'm out of SNA there's no non-stops and some of the cheaper flights have lengthy gate-to-gate times. DL has NS, but their prices are higher (sometimes by nearly double), but even with DL's new no-change-fees policy as I have no status and have to pay for my bags both ways unless I need to be there right away WN still wins out. Hell, one trip I'd priced it was cheaper to fly in on WN's last flight and get a room at an FI than pay for a NS on DL, and even with the reduced WGA inventory close-in I'd still feel better trying to change my inbound on WN with the A-List free standbys (although a bag can make that a tricky proposition) vs DL.

(I guess the tl;dr is even with a lack of fees is only one part of the equation. Oh, and to keep this on track, UA doesn't have any NS SNA-SLC either, I'd checked when I got Ed's E-mail.)
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Old Aug 31, 20, 7:05 pm
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Other airlines adopting no change fee

So with AAL, Delta, United adopting no change fees, how will that affect Southwest? None, a little? Will SWA have to come up with something new to differentiate? I'm still loyal to Southwest, but now I may not be as reluctant to fly AA if the times/routing works better for me and not checking bags.
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Old Aug 31, 20, 11:19 pm
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Will we perhaps see a refresh of A-list and A-list preferred benefits? Especially now that UA and AA allow free standby for all travelers.
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Old Sep 1, 20, 9:56 pm
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And now Alaska and Frontier have also joined the group.
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Old Sep 2, 20, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by storewanderer View Post
They can just make up for the lack of a "change fee" by rolling it into the overall fare increase when the flight is re-fared at the current going price....
One problem with the old change fees is that the passenger had to pay the fare increase PLUS the $125 or whatever the change fee was. They can't possibly raise fares enough to cover the old change fee - can they ?
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Old Sep 2, 20, 11:18 am
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Originally Posted by ehallison View Post
One problem with the old change fees is that the passenger had to pay the fare increase PLUS the $125 or whatever the change fee was. They can't possibly raise fares enough to cover the old change fee - can they ?
Since a lot of airlines have said that the "no change fees" policy won't apply to basic economy tickets, I wouldn't be surprised if something like this happened. I think it's already pretty common for the difference between basic economy and regular economy to be in the $30-50 range. I wouldn't be surprised if the difference creeps up to be near $100 over the next couple years, so that you're basically paying the old change fee in advance in the price of the regular economy ticket..
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Old Sep 2, 20, 1:55 pm
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I'm in a prominent WN market, and I also have low-tier status on AA and UA. So I frequently compare WN against one of those two, depending on where I'm flying. In my experience, AA and UA use their Basic Economy fare to compete with WN. "Regular" economy is almost always higher - sometimes 50% or more higher.

So the apples-to-apples comparison is going to be WN's normal WGA benefits vs. the legacy Basic Economy benefits. AA has gone farther than UA in terms of enhancing those - upgrade eligibility, etc. But for most of my trips, I'd still prefer the normal Southwest policies over BE.

Legacies introduced BE because they said they needed to compete with ULCCs. But in my experience, I have *never* seen UA or AA match a Spirit fare - at least not out of MCI. Spirit and only Spirit will sell me a $32 MCI-LAX seat. Legacies use BE to compete with Southwest, mainly.

So in the future, the devil in the details will be whether they continue to do this, as well as what the gap is between BE and the regular economy fare.

While I'm happy about the changes, my guess is that I'll still be flying more WN than AA and UA combined for my domestic itins.
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Old Sep 2, 20, 2:16 pm
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now, WN without standby is uncompetitive. WGA travelers wanting to get on an earlier flight have to pay 3 or 4x for the privilege on WN, nothing on the others.

Prediction. WN will go the basic route w/o standby, WGAs will be higher and allow standby.
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Old Sep 2, 20, 2:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Colin View Post
Prediction. WN will go the basic route w/o standby, WGAs will be higher and allow standby.
... I hope not, that'll eliminate an A-List benefit and raise prices.
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