Major US airlines reverting to pre-Covid fees and restrictions

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Until recently airlines were not charging travel fees. They allowed for more flexibility when it came to re-booking or changing flights. It was because of the Covid pandemic.

The airlines wanted to give travelers more foredoom as the Covid situation was so unpredictable. States were trying to confine the spread of virus and were setting up various restrictive measures.

However, flight tickets in Economy class on American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, or Alaska Airlines may no longer be changeable or refundable. These four major US airlines reverted to pre-Covid fees and restrictions and the beginning of May.

When the corona-virus pandemic ravaged the travel industry in 2020 US airlines struggled to survive. Domestic and international travel went into a grinding halt. Then airlines began to remove booking and all sorts of fees and fare restrictions to help their customers.

Baggage fees, re-booking penalties, cancellation charges all disappeared. Airline customers enjoyed worry free travel not seen in a decade.

Now it all has changed!

Merry S. recently book United Airlines for her flight from San Francisco, California to Newark, New Jersey on our website Her flight will depart on June 30, 2021 on United Airlines flight UA2304. 

Even though Merry S. said she was happy to find the lowest possible fare for her trip on something cough her attention.

Her United Airlines reservation states she is booked in Basic Economy class. As a result certain restrictions apply.

For example, she can travel with a personal item that fits under the seat in front of her for free, but not with a full-sized carry-on bag. She has to pay a baggage fee unless she has a premier status.

If she brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the departure gate, for instance, she will be “subject to the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge” which starts at $50.

She wouldn’t have a choice if she wanted to take a full-sized carry-on with her but to check it in. Ticket fare doesn’t allow her to take a full-sized carry-on bag for free on-board. It will cost her $35 for one bag and additional $45 for a second bag.

To avoid the baggage fees she had to fall into one of several United premium traveler’s categories.

Furthermore, because of her airfare she is not eligible to upgrade to an Economy Premium class. The best she can do is to reserve a seat in Economy class that would cost her between $14 and $56.

It is apparent United Airlines is reinstating their pre-Covid travel fees and fare restrictions.

Since United and the other three major US airlines saw an increase in domestic travel they started to ask passengers once again to pay all sorts of fees.

The increased travel is manly due to the lifting up of Covid restrictions in many US states like Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Connecticut, Minnesota, and so on. As a result travelers gained confidence and felt safe to travel once again.

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, for example, saw a 60% increase in passengers in March of this year according to Las Vegas Review-Journal.

American Airlines has become the first US airline to revert to pre-Covid pandemic rules and in April began to impose fare restriction for those passengers booked in Basic Economy class.

In the beginning of May Delta, Alaska, and United reinstated their tightened rules for passengers flying in Basic Economy.

Basic Economy class is a travel class offered by many airlines. The class is lower then Economy class and it is the cheapest airfare option. It comes with more restrictions when compared to standard Economy fares. Basically, you get a seat on an airplane but nothing else.

When airlines used to have only one type of Economy class a personal item and a full-sized carry-on was free to bring on board.

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Ian Powers is a travel blogger and nature enthusiast. Ian has over 20 years of aviation travel experience.

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