How to Avoid United’s Close-in Booking Fee

One thing consumers can all agree on is that they hate fees. I know for sure I hate them. One of the dreaded fee’s I hate the most is United’s close-in fee. United charges $75 to book within 21 days of departure. This fee was avoidable only to elite status. Thankfully that is not the only way to avoid this fee.

I’m coming to the end of my career break. I just went over my budget and planned to come home as soon as I did. I came across this dreaded fee while trying to book my flight home. My flight home costed 35,000 miles + $41.46 + $75 (close-in fee). However, with this trick you can easily avoid that fee and keep that extra $75 in your pocket.

Avoid United Fee v1

Step-By-Step Process

  1. Book the same flight for more than 21 days out. 
  2. Once the flight is booked, click into “My trips” from the homepage.  
  3. Click “Change Flights” under the reservation you just made (You can only make changes for free within 24 hours).
  4. Click on the “See Options” under Change a flight box.
  5. Click on the “Edit” button.
  6. Search your flight on your desired date.United6
  7. Select your flight on your desired date
  8. Notice that the change fee is waived.United8
  9. Continue to payment (Some cost could be more or less than your original booking). 

Note: For my example above, disregard the dates as I was changing my February 26, 2017 ticket to a February 25, 2017 ticket. The same step by step process should be applied. Originally I booked a March 26, 2017 ticket and changed it to February 26, 2017 using this process. 

Alternative Route

If you do see an error or see a some type of fee. Then you could call in to United and see if an agent can make the changes for you without the fee. Doing this will be a your mileage may vary type of ordeal.  Some agents know there should be a close-in booking fee while others don’t. If you do get an agent that is requiring you to pay a fee. Simply hang up and call again. Try your luck with another agent. You can keep doing this process until you get an incompetent agent that is willing to change your reservation fee-free.

Bottom Line

If you need to book a United award flight within 21 days. This trick will let you avoid the $75 close-in fee. This trick is built into United’s website which makes it all so much easier doing online.

Jon Jovi

Jon Jovi Olaveja is the founder and editor in chief of Points of Early Retirement. He is passionate about saving money by traveling the world on points and teaching others how to accomplish this. He loves to write about travel and personal finance.

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