United Airlines tries to improve its brand image with waived change fees

With a quick online search, it becomes very evident that American airline companies are coming under fire for requesting that American taxpayers bail them out after the airline companies made the conscious decision not to plan for economic downturns.  Similarly, American taxpayers are complaining that while airline companies are getting bailed out for canceled flights, American consumers continue to get taken advantage of by airlines when it comes rescheduling their own canceled tickets (see comments in tweet). As a result, this pandemic has negatively impacted the reputation of the airline companies, and United Airlines is no exception.

Following all of this bad press, companies, like United Airlines, are attempting to improve their reputation by removing some of the main consumer pain points …supposedly. In the promotional video on the company’s website, a spokesperson announces that they “are becoming the first legacy airline to remove this fee forever”. Ironically, on the same page, it states that this policy ends by the end of the year. Not only that, but if you read the fine print, you would also see that this applies only to fares that are higher than basic economy.

Moreover, United Airlines is promising to not only get rid of change fees but to also offer same-day standby at no cost. This means that if you would like to travel with an earlier flight on the same day, you can show up to the airport and maybe get placed on an earlier flight. As always, this service is only guaranteed to Mileage Plus Premier members. It is clear that while this campaign was meant to improve the image of the company, it really only serves to drive customers away from the Basic Economy fare and to encourage them to sign up for the loyalty program.

Do you think that these empty words are making a difference to customer perception of the company or are they simply making their image worse?

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