On the Call: Question raised on change fees

The Associated Press
Associated Press

US Airways executives says they expect passengers to pay a bit more in the next couple of months, and an analyst wondered if the recent increase in ticket-change fees was helping sell pricier tickets.

Company President Scott Kirby said he didn't see any signs of that yet.

In April, United Airlines raised the fee for changing a ticket to $200 from $150. Others including US Airways followed suit. The fees don't apply to some higher-priced tickets.

Hunter Keay, an analyst with Wolfe Research, asked executives on a US Airways Group Inc. conference call Wednesday if the higher fee was prompting more people to buy refundable tickets, presumably to avoid a hefty charge if their travel plans changed.

KIRBY: "I don't know. It will be really hard to tease that answer out of the data. There's been nothing that sticks out in the data that would make you think there has been any fundamental change of behavior. Our booking curves haven't really shifted with the exception that bookings close-in (to the date of travel) have been stronger."

Kirby attributed the increase in last-minute bookings to a pickup in business travel. Leisure travelers more often buy tickets far in advance.