AA, Delta Match Change Fee Increase of United, US Airways

Two more domestic carriers have increased the fee to change a flight

ByABC News
May 3, 2013, 8:59 AM

May 3, 2013— -- Two more domestic carriers have increased the fee to change a flight, matching a move initiated by United Airlines last month and quickly matched by US Airways.

Delta and American Airlines both increased their change fees this week, upping the fee to change a domestic flight from $150 to $200.

"American has matched for travel within the U.S., between the U.S. and Canada, and between both the U.S. and Canada and Mexico, Puerto Rico & the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and Central America," said American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan.

The carrier points out its program Choice Essential and Choice Plus allow changes with no fee, as well as other benefits. The programs were introduced late last year. The base fare is higher than that of a basic economy-class ticket.

Delta Airlines could not be reached for comment.

United Airlines, which initialed the change-fee increase, told ABC News: "We carefully manage our seat inventory and incur costs when a traveler elects not to fly in a reserved seat. We adjusted this fee to better compensate us for those costs."

Change fees generally apply only to those passengers traveling on the most restrictive economy-class tickets. A lower fare is the trade-off for limited flexibility.

The change comes in time for the busy summer travel season, a peak time for leisure travelers, many traveling on non-refundable, non-changeable tickets. Change fees are in addition to any change in ticket price; for example, if a traveler were to purchase a domestic ticket for $300 and then want to change the dates of travel, and the price had then increased to $350, the airline would charge the fare difference of $50 plus the change fee. On United, US Airways, Delta and American, this example would run the customer an additional $250 total.

The change-fee isn't the only fee likely to take a bite out of summer travelers' wallets: Earlier this week, Frontier Airlines announced it would charge passengers who book on third-party web sites for carry-on bags and for soft drinks in economy class.