When I was going through my email inbox this morning all bleary-eyed (as is the case every morning), I was shocked to see an email from United with the words “eliminate” and “fees,” both of which are typical words coming from United, but are rarely seen together. I usually see something more like “United eliminates meals” and “new baggage fees.” I was looking for asterisks, small print, etc., but found nothing.
So yeah, United actually eliminated close-in ticketing fees for award travel. Kudos to them! Why? Well, it’s certainly not out of the kindness of their heart. I think Cranky is spot on in his analysis. If people don’t use their miles on United and go elsewhere, United can’t charge them $100 to check two bags roundtrip, $9 for a “gourmet” sandwich, $6 for an adult beverage, $50 for Economy Plus, $25 for Premier Line, $60 for Award Accelerator, or $400 for a first class upgrade. Along the same lines, when the airlines release award seats close to departure they would typically not otherwise be filled. Therefore United is getting people to cash in frequent flyer miles for otherwise empty seats, which is good for everyone.
Anyway, while this wasn’t done out of the kindness of their heart, great job United!