All About United Airlines Change, Cancellation and Other Fees

United has dropped many fees that it used to charge for flight changes.
Sally French
Keith M. Rosso
By Keith M. Rosso and  Sally French 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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When it comes to change fees, United Airlines has you covered. Aside from its basic economy airfares, United doesn't charge change fees on most domestic flights. The airline also allows passengers hoping to book earlier flights the ability to fly same-day standby for free, among other flexible, fee-free booking options.

However, United still charges fees for checked luggage and other extras, like bringing a pet with you, priority boarding and preferred seating.

Here’s what to know about United Airlines’ fees.

United Airlines baggage fees

United’s checked baggage fees vary depending on your route, elite status (or lack thereof), what credit card you hold and what type of ticket you’ve purchased. Head over to this page to read everything about United’s checked, carry-on, overweight and oversize baggage fees: United Airlines bag fees: how they work, how to avoid them.

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United Airlines change fees

United gives you lots of flexibility when it comes to allowing you to change your flight. In August 2020, United removed change fees permanently on paid flights within the U.S., or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean. However, basic economy fares and all other international flights are excluded.

Although passengers can change their flight at no cost, there's one caveat: You still have to pay for the difference in fares if your new flight is more expensive. And if your new fare is cheaper, you may get a future flight credit for the fare difference.

For award tickets, United also doesn’t charge a change fee as long as your domestic or international flight originates in the U.S. and you’re not flying on a basic economy fare.

United Airlines cancellation fee

United used to charge a $200 cancellation fee, but those fees are gone now too. Here's the current United Airlines cancellation fee policy:

  • All tickets — even basic economy — can be canceled for a full cash refund if your ticket was purchased within 24 hours and the purchase is at least a week before departure.

  • After that 24-hour window closes, if you purchase a nonrefundable ticket, you are not eligible for a cash refund and will instead receive a future flight credit. Basic economy fares are not eligible for these credits.

  • If you cancel a basic economy ticket, you will not receive a refund in any form.

United Airlines standby fees

Standby fees are gone now too. The airline used to charge $75 (waived with MileagePlus Gold status or above) to fly standby on the same day. Now, any customer can stand by for an earlier flight for free.

United Airlines pet fee

If you’d like to bring your pet on board with you into the cabin, you will have to pay $125 each way on select flights. If you have a flight with a stopover longer than four hours within the U.S. or more than 24 hours internationally, you’ll need to pay another $125.

There are various requirements that your pet must satisfy, so make sure you’re aware of all the results.

United Airlines priority boarding fee

Priority boarding is targeted to those who want to board earlier than their ticket allows. When you pay for priority boarding with United, you will board in Group 2 behind United Airlines elites and premium cabin passengers.

The price starts at $15 per flight segment and is available only on United and United Express flights. You can purchase priority boarding privileges for one segment or all segments of your route.

United seat selection fee

When you book an economy ticket, you can pay for a preferred seat, which is basically a regular economy seat but is closer to the front of the plane. You’ll be a few rows behind Economy Plus passengers.

Preferred seats start at $14 and vary by route. Basic economy passengers are eligible to purchase preferred seating.

United offers customizable bundle packages during the booking process, which could save you money if you’re paying multiple fees. For example, you can bundle your checked bag fees and priority boarding. Keep in mind, these bundles are typically nonrefundable so be sure your travel plans are firm when booking.

In NerdWallet's most recent analysis of airline fees, we compared seat selection, checked baggage and overhead carry-on baggage fees charged by the major U.S. airlines on typical one-way fares. Here's how they stacked up:

Final thoughts on United Airlines fees

There are many moving parts when booking any airlines reservation and United is no exception. Take the extra time to understand baggage and other fees as you plan out your bookings so you don't get caught by surprise.

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