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United Airlines is getting rid of change fees.... Forever

By Laura Brown
September 29, 2021
United Airlines 737
United becomes the first major carrier to eliminate change fees.

United Airlines has announced that it is permanently eliminating change fees for all standard Economy and Premium tickets for travel within the United States. The change is effective immediately.

Additionally, beginning on January 1, 2021, any United customer can fly standby for free on a flight on their ticketed day of travel, regardless of the type of ticket.

United becomes the first airline to permanently waive change fees.

Additionally, United has announced that it is extending its waiver to permit unlimited changes to new tickets with new fee. This extension lasts until December 31, 2020. The effect is that customers can rest assured that they can make adjustments to their travel plans in the future.

You can read more about United's new policy on change fees here: https://hub.united.com/2020-08-30-united-airlines-permanently-eliminates-change-fees-2647406401.html

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Travel Tips

Ask the experts: can you fly safely during a pandemic?

Coronavirus cases are continuing to spike in the United States making it quite unappealing to fly as it’s impossible to socially distance on a plane. Planes have a high rate of air circulation and HEPA air filters which the Mayo Clinic says helps to prevent the spread of the virus. Flying is still risky as airports are busy and flights are often crowded. Delta is keeping middle seats passenger-less through at least January 6th while American, Southwest, and United are no longer blocking off middle seats. The CDC doesn’t recommend holiday travel and notes that “social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.” Yet, a recent study found that 23% of Americans will travel for the December holidays. If you absolutely must travel on an airplane there are precautions you can take to lower the chances of catching COVID-19 and passing it along to others unknowingly. We spoke with Dr. Kunjana Mavunda, M.D., a travel medicine specialist and pulmonologist at the International Travel Clinic, to find out how to be smart about flying during the COVID-19 global pandemic. “Flying cannot be COVID-19 safe—especially, currently, where our COVID-19 numbers are high in so many parts of the USA and the world.” Get a COVID-19 test before flying, even if it’s not required Dr. Mavunda says that FDA approved rapid tests give quick results compared to PCR tests that take longer to get the results but notes that PCR tests may be more reliable. “The test should be taken as close to travel as possible,” Dr. Mavunda says. After getting tested, It’s important to quarantine until your flight. “People can be asymptomatic but can still transmit the infection. One can get infected after the test or during travel,” Dr. Mavunda says. “One should assume that they’re infected, considering how fast our numbers are increasing.” 2. 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A face shield will give additional protection, but should be used with a mask, not on its own,” Dr. Mavunda says. Some airlines don’t allow face shields at all and others only allow them when paired with a proper face mask. A reusable cotton mask that properly fits the face and covers the nose and mouth adequately will suffice. Dr. Mavunda says it’s fine to double mask but it may make it difficult to breathe on long flights. 4. Bring as much hand sanitizer on board as you’re allowed You’ll want to clean your hands often while traveling—and have lotion to help your hands retain moisture. “Passengers should sanitize their hands regularly during a flight, including before and after eating or drinking, immediately after sitting down, and after every time you get up and move around,” Dr. Mavunda says. Use the sanitizer to clean your area including the tray table and any food or beverage packaging. 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Be mindful of your behavior in flight Keep your mask on throughout the flight. Eat before you arrive at the airport to avoid removing your mask to eat at the airport or on the flight. If you have to eat, clean your hands right after and put your mask on immediately. Don’t read the in-flight magazine. As COVID-19 is spread through liquid particles Dr. Mavunda says to talk softly and avoid loud people while traveling. “One should not sit next to a person who doesn’t keep the mask on,” Dr. Mavunda says. “Ask to be moved if someone around you isn’t being compliant and the flight attendant is unable to take action.” Dr. Mavunda recommends avoiding areas where people congregate or have high usage, such as toilets. If you plan to keep your air vent on full blast bring a hat and scarf to stay warm while flying. Lola Méndez is a freelance travel and lifestyle journalist who runs the blog Miss Filatelista.

Travel Tips

What to do about high rental car prices

$300/day car rentals? Is this real? In some extreme cases, yes, this is the current reality. Or, potentially even worse, there are no rental cars available at all. As travel demand continues to rise for Spring Break and Easter weekend, rental car companies are struggling to keep up with demand. Our internal data and analysis have shown a spike in not only the average price per day (which has increased 100% in the past 30 days), but also in the percentage of searches with no availability. While the latter is starting to trend back downward, prices have remained stubbornly high. Why is this happening? Our earlier prediction on Dec. 15, 2020 of elevated rental car rates laid out four main reasons that the market and other forces would result in the current situation. At that time, we encouraged everyone to reserve their rental car early. Rental car fleet is dramatically lower than typical for this time of year. Car rental companies became experts of selling their fleet direct to consumers, further reducing their fleet size. In-fleeting, or adding inventory, will go more slowly than usual. Our thinking here was mainly around corporate risk avoidance for fleet planners, which still holds true. However, another factor is at play here with manufacturers delaying planned orders because of a computer chip shortage that is affecting production. Car Rental companies are sticking by plans to be ready for a higher travel demand by the peak summer season. Travel demand will spike as cases decrease, vaccinations increase and restrictions are loosened. There is a wave of pent up travel demand waiting to be released. Previously, we felt this would peak in Summer 2021, but all signs point to this happening now for Spring Break 2021. What can you do about it? If you are seeing higher than average prices or no rental cars available, here’s what we suggest. Change your travel dates. If your travel dates are flexible at all, search for other dates. This will especially be helpful if you can travel during off-peak / shoulder date ranges. Late April through mid-May typically sees lower travel demand. So does early June and late August. All bets are off the table when it comes to 100% reliable forecasting, but those date ranges should be fairly reliable when it comes to leisure travel destinations. Search for alternative pick up locations. While this could mean a completely different location that may not be as popular, it could also mean looking at rental car options not at the airport. Finding a rental near your hotel or final destination may mean lower rates and lower taxes. Try searching for city locations beyond the airport, or use our Zip Code search capabilities to hone in on specific locations. This may mean you will have to be creative in getting to the rental car facility away from the airport (think shared ride service, hotel shuttle or taxi), it could be the difference in taking that trip or not by finding an available and affordable rental car. Book as far in advance (NOW) as possible. Considering a trip for the summer? Search for that rental car first and make your reservation immediately. Most rental car reservations are flexible and can be fully cancelled or modified all the way up to the day before your scheduled pick up date. Our goal is to always find the perfect car for the best price for you. We encourage you to use these options to reserve that perfect rental car as soon as possible! Click here to search for your car rental on AutoRentals.com.

Travel Tips

Nab These Great 2018 Deals Now!

As our name suggests, Budget Travel is all about empowering our audience to get out there and see more for less. We spend a good deal of our time (and have a lot of fun) researching bargain trips, great hotel rates, and airfare-booking secrets. So we’re psyched to report that the U.S. Travel Association is launching Daily Getaways 2018 (dailygetaways.ustravel.org) on Monday, April 9, offering some of the year’s best deals for up to 60 percent off, just in time for the summer high season. LOYALTY POINTS FOR SALE Are you one of the 72 percent of Americans who crave an easier, more affordable way to redeem loyalty points to book travel? The U.S. Travel Association found that nearly three in four travelers face that challenge, and this year’s Daily Getaways is making it easier than ever to capitalize on rewards programs, with top travel companies offering deeply discounted loyalty points for sale. A few examples of loyalty points for sale include Choice Privileges, IHG Rewards Club, Hilton Honors, and more. DAILY DEALS From April 9 through May 9, new, limited-quantity deals will go live at 1pm Eastern each day. Deals include the loyalty points sale mentioned above as well as coupons for car rentals, tickets to popular attractions, deals on hotel stays, and more. Spoiler alert: The very first deal, on April 9, is a discounted Universal Express Ticket including admission, for $139, and there will be only 250 on sale. BROWSE THE DEALS IN ADVANCE Our favorite part of Daily Getaways is that you can start browsing the month of deals now to see what’s on the horizon and mark your calendars (paper or virtual) and sign up for daily notifications to make sure you don’t miss out. In addition to the Universal deal mentioned above, others we may mark our calendars for include: A one-day car rental from Avis for $30 (April 13), a four-night stay at Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for $475 (April 18), and a two-night escape at Omni Hotels & Resorts for $245 (April 20).

Travel Tips

The One App Every Traveler Needs Now

Some of my favorite ideas started with the words “What if…?” So I’ve been especially excited to download and start using Lonely Planet’s new Trips app, which basically starts with the concept, “What if we create a world-class social media platform tailor-made for travelers?” Trips (downloadable for iOS HERE and coming soon for Android) allows you to upload images and captions from your travels and organize them in an attractive layout that serves as a mini travel story that you can share with as many - or as few - fellow users as you please. Want your close relatives to experience your weekend escape to a state fair? Trips can do that. Want the entire world to experience your monthlong European odyssey? Trips can do that, too. Lonely Planet, Budget Travel’s parent company, has a storied history of engaging travelers in a two-way conversation in which travel experts inspire and empower travel enthusiasts, and travel enthusiasts in turn inspire and empower others to do the same. The Trips app takes that relationship to new heights. Highlights include: Get Inspired Browse the images and stories posted by Lonely Planet’s audience (not to mention its editors, writers, and photographers) to find your next great vacation destination. Share your trips Upload images and captions and the app will lay them out for you in an engaging platform that you can adjust before publishing so that the group you share it with (as many or as few people as you wish) will see your trip in the most attractive visual format possible. Customize your experience Sure, we all love to travel, but not everyone wants to, say, scale mountains or sail to remote islands. If, for instance, road trips or gentle hikes are more your thing, you can easily zero in on what you most want to do. Get Started Click HERE to learn more or HERE to download the free app for iOS now.