Today, United Airlines announced they were dropping last-minute fees for Mileage Plus frequent-flyer award ticket redemption. Yes, this is not a misprint but a case of an airline actually dropping an irksome fee. Currently, non-elite Mileage Plus members are charged $100 to redeem within six days of travel and $75 within seven to twenty days.
These fees have long pained consumers but have been revenue generators for the airlines. After all, it costs an airline the same amount to pull miles and issue a ticket for free travel two hours before a flight leaves vs. two months.
We can think of few other fee roll-backs that once they have been widely accepted by the industry. USAirways stopped charging for sodas but only after they were not matched by any of the major airlines. Similarly, Delta was forced to back down on new international baggage fees after the industry failed to match leaving Delta uncompetitive.
Indeed, prior to Northwest's acquisition by Delta, Northwest did not charge last minute ticketing fees. However, that perk (or should we say Worldperk) went away as soon as the ink was dry on the merger.