Mini Updates: Increasing Change Fees, Hyatt Free Night, and More

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  • It seems that United has quietly upped change fees from $150 and $250 to $200 and $300 for new tickets.  Most of the tickets I have purchased with United over the last several years have come with a $150 change fee – and that is a ton.  $200 is just a ton plus $50.  I can’t help but think that change fees hit families harder.  First, because there are more folks traveling so more change fees to pay, but second because the more people you are responsible for the more likely someone will have an emergency, illness, job issue, etc. that causes the trip to have to change.  Of course I know that changes happen in the world of business travel as well, but it is the family leisure traveler that I always am the most concerned about.  Don’t be shocked if other airlines start to match this increase…though do be glad that at least for now Southwest has said they are sticking with no change fess despite their “accidentally” having a $75 fee showing on fares to San Juan.
  • On a more positive note, there are several reports of people getting a free night at any Hyatt in the world as a “thank you” for having stayed in 50 unique Hyatt properties.  A quick count showed that I am just below 40 different Hyatts in the last couple of years, so I wouldn’t be eligible quite yet.  However this does not seem to be a universal gift at this point as there are also plenty of folks with 50+ unique properties who have not received the free night.  Time will tell if this will be an across the board gift, or if it will be selective like the 50,000 United miles gift that was given to some Hyatt junkies in 2012.
  • American has been proactively handing out miles for those who’s travel plans were impacted by the April 16th IT related cancellations.  The amounts seem to be tied to elite level with the highest tier getting 7,500 miles and non-elites getting 1,500 miles.  Having such widespread cancellations and delays stinks, but they really do seem to be handling it as well as any company could, so thumbs up for that!
  • United is offering up to 1,500 miles for per night for hotels booked via their site for a limited time The number of miles you earn is based on the price of the room per night with rooms with an average nightly rate of $149 and up paying out at 1,500 miles per night.  I can’t help but wonder if this is at all related to sites like PointsHound or RocketMiles that are also offeringimpressive numbers of frequent flyer miles for bookings.  PointsHound even has a feature where you can earn both hotel nights/points and extra frequent flyer miles.  Personally I would not be jumping to book via the United site as I like to be sure I am earning hotel points and elite stay credits, but if all you care about is miles then it can be worth looking at.

Thanks it for today – have a great night!

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  1. Related to the increase in change fees — Maybe you could do a future post on travel insurance / options that would cover typical reasons families might incur the fees?

  2. The insurance company benefiting from these fees are like remoras on a shark. No more, no less.

    I hope we could get a $200 credit each time UA changes its schedule. Have a ticket for which the flights have already changed twice.

    Why the one-way street?
    I know there is SWA. But I hate the cattle boarding and the non pre-assigned seats meaning that I have to queue in line instead of enjoying a Martini somewhere in the terminal 40min prior.

  3. While I suspect that the majority of travelers rarely have to change their plans and thusly don’t pay this fee very often, $200 dollars seems so overly punitive to me. So did $150 dollars.

  4. I haven’t had that kind of positive AA experience. I had a flight from O’Hare – my ticket was first class, and they cancelled my flight and then used that aircraft and renumbered it for a different flight to the same destination. After chaos at the airport, I was Put on the plane in the last row of coach and then was told I was not entitled to any compensation. Does not make me feel like American Airlines is particularly customer focused….

  5. United is looking less and less appealing to me. I already chose to cut back my flying on them last year (didn’t choose to fly United enough to maintain my Silver status) and I may not fly them at all in 2013. And that is saying a lot, since I live in San Francisco! Southwest is looking better and better for flying with my family, at least to most West Coast destinations. And I may choose to fly Virgin America to get to major cities on the East Coast. VX’s in-flight experience is much better, with the entertainment, food, and generally young/friendly flight attendants.

  6. I booked a hotel through the United Promotion and am staying at a Starwood Property.

    While I think it will be a great value to collect the 4500 United miles for my 3-night stay and got a very good rate on the room vs booking direct.

    Be Warned:

    You will get no Starwood credits for the stay and that there is nowhere to input your Hotel Loyalty numbers on the reservation.

    I had to call the hotel directly to add my loyalty number and when I asked about using my Suite-Night awards they told me that the reservation was booked through Expedia and was not eligible.

    So basically United subs out it’s booking to Expedia in case anyone was wondering.

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