United is waiving all change fees through 2020 as event cancellations continue because of the coronavirus pandemic

FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines passenger aircraft arrives over the top of residential houses to land at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain, March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

  • United Airlines is extending its coronavirus travel waiver, allowing customers with travel anytime in 2020 to change their flights without a fee, or cancel their flights and receive a voucher for a future flight.
  • However, those with flights later in the year will need to make the change or cancellation by April 30.
  • The extended waiver came as experts begin to expect disruptions to everyday life due to COVID-19 to continue into and likely beyond the summer.
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United Airlines said on Tuesday that it would waive fees for flight changes or cancellations for travel through the end of the year, significantly extending a coronavirus-related travel waiver that has been in place since early March.

However, the waiver only applies if changes are made by April 30. Passengers with travel between May 1-May 31 will still be able to change or cancel their flights in May.Advertisement

The waiver was previously only valid for travel booked through May 31. United is the first US airline to extend its general coronavirus waiver beyond the summer.

Under the terms of the travel waiver, passengers with tickets to fly anywhere with the airline can change their travel dates without a fee, or can cancel their trip altogether. Those who cancel their trips will receive a voucher for the full value of their ticket, to be used for a future flight. Vouchers are valid for two years.

The move comes as public health and government officials begin anticipating a longer disruption to everyday life than was originally forecasted. While experts had hoped the outbreak could be contained and business would return to normal by the summer, later events are beginning to be postponed or cancelled.

The Democratic National Convention, for instance, was postponed from July to August due to the outbreak. The extension offers more flexibility to travelers worried about events in the summer or fall.

Additionally, any ticket purchased between March 3 and April 30 can be changed without fees for 12 months. Airlines have struggled to attract customers and keep revenue flowing as the coronavirus has brought travel demand to nearly nothing. As the airlines begin looking towards recovery from the crisis, offering flexible change policies, attractive fares, and prolonging the expiration of vouchers is seen by some as a way to convince customers to book trips without feeling at-risk of losing the value of the tickets if plans change due to the virus.Advertisement

"Additionally, seeing what kind of demand there is out there will help us as we build schedules in the coming months," a spokesperson told Business Insider

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