< PrevNext > Scott Kirby, United Airlines CEO The Change Agent By Michael B. Baker / December 10, 2020 / Contact Reporter Share Of all the permanent changes Covid-19 will leave on the airline industry, the elimination of domestic change fees stands to be one of the most profound in terms of shaping corporate travel policies.While carriers already had suspended change fees during the pandemic, United Airlines—led by CEO Scott Kirby, who took over the chief executive job in the spring—was the first to announce that the change was permanent. On Aug. 30, the carrier announced a new policy in which travelers pay only the fare differential when changing domestic tickets, including travel to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the exception of Basic Economy tickets. United also announced it was making same-day standby free.In a video message that went along with the announcement, Kirby said getting rid of those fees was one of the top requested items from passengers.Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines all announced similar policies with a few days of United’s announcement. That put the five largest U.S. carriers in unison on the matter, as Southwest Airlines never charged change fees in the first place. American, and more recently both United and Delta, also have since extended the permanent end to change fees to cover long-haul international flights originating in the United States.Many buyers will need to re-examine such policies as advance purchase requirements when corporate travel begins to pick up again, particularly as they all now vary a bit by airline. American Airlines, for example, took the extra step of agreeing to offer credit for fare differentials when the new ticket is cheaper."As we emerged from previous tough times, we made difficult decisions to survive financially but sometimes at the expense of customer service either by adding new fees or cutting the things that made the experience of flying better simply because they were too expensive," Kirby said in his video message. "United Airlines won't be following that same playbook as we come out of this crisis."