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Today I needed to make a change to a United award ticket I have booked. I needed to change the departure date by one day on a flight that is still several months away. On the new day that I needed to go there was a direct flight available, whereas on the day I was previously booked all available reward flights required a connection. Since I will be traveling on this flight with my kiddo, getting the available direct flight would make things much simpler.
The website was throwing me errors (as has been typical on many of my reservations since the merger), so I called in to get some help. I mistakenly thought it would be a simple change, but I was told that there would be a $75 fee to change from an award flight with connections to one without. What? I told the agent that I have always been told that you can make changes up to 21 days before departure without a fee as long as the origin and destination remain the same. She insisted I was wrong and that there has always been a charge if the routing changes at all. Huh – where have I been? She was not going to budge, so I decided to “hang up and call back”.
I hopped on United’s website and saw their (crazy looking) award service fee chart. I call it crazy because it just seems unnecessarily complex to me, but then again I’m a pretty simple gal. It did not look like that, pre-merger. Regardless, there is nothing on there that says there is a fee for changing routing as long as the origin and destination remain the same up until 21 days before. In fact, the United website says, “Adding, changing or deleting a connection, 21 days or more prior to departure – no fee”.
So, I called back and explained the situation to another agent. That second agent immediately started to tell me that there is indeed a $75 fee per person for changing routing regardless of whether or not you are 21 days before departure. I asked her to go look at the website and help me understand where this information is, because I was seeing the opposite. She went to the award chart and said, “correct, we do not charge when you change routing.” She said it as if that had been her stance all along, so I was somewhat confused at first, but as long as she was changing the flights without charging me, I was happy and went along with it. She had to put me on hold a few times to get the flight changed, but in the end it was changed to a day earlier and on the direct route. Woohoo!
I hate interactions like this though, because I know there are many others out there that would have just believed what the agents were saying and would have paid the money to change the flights, or would have kept their old flights even when better ones are available. It’s this kind of stuff that leads people to believe that miles aren’t worth it, when in fact the award ticket was more flexible than a revenue ticket likely would have been.
What has your experience been with awards and fees with the new United? Am I crazy to have never heard of this alleged charge for changing routing on award tickets that both agents seemed to think exists or were they just both confused?