If you have to change your plans after booking a flight, get ready to pay higher fees.
US Airways and United Airlines raised the fee charged to domestic passengers who want to rebook a nonrefundable ticket: It's now $200, up from $150. (The fee could be higher for international flights.)
And Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest domestic carrier, announced it would launch a new no-show policy starting with travel on Sept. 13. In the past, Southwest passengers who missed a flight and didn't cancel the reservation in advance could still use the credit toward a different flight. Now passengers who buy a “Wanna Get Away” or “Ding!” fare and fail to cancel will lose the credit.
The higher change fees, adopted over the last two weeks, and Southwest’s new policy are expected to hit business travelers the hardest because their schedules are most likely to change at the last minute.
“The policy is intended to alter behavior, encouraging customers to cancel unused nonrefundable fares prior to a flight's departure,” Southwest Chief Executive Gary C. Kelly said.
United officials noted that airlines lose money when seats are left empty.
“We carefully manage our seat inventory and incur costs when a traveler elects not to fly in a reserved seat,” United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said. “We adjusted this fee to better compensate us for those costs.”
For the nation’s airlines, that compensation has been rising.
In the first nine months of 2012, the nation’s 17 largest airlines collected $1.94 billion from cancellation or reservation change fees, up from $1.81 billion in the same period in 2011, according to federal statistics.Copyright © 2015, CT Now