Change Fee

Sep 11, 2020

LEADER'S FIELD GUIDE

Improvement comes at quite a price-- a change fee. How does the airline ticket change fee shed light on the challenges of changing or not changing? 


Recently (like…yesterday), I rolled out a new website. As many marketing and web experts already know, new websites have a way of clarifying mission, vision, ideal clients, business processes, and grammar! Change is hard! Even if the new solution is an improvement, it comes at quite a price-- a change fee. I am reminded that major airlines joined Southwest last month in eliminating what they say was the most popular complaint: the ticket change fee.1 In 2019, the average ticket price was $400 and the cost of swapping tickets about $200.2

United collected $625 million in ticket cancellation and change fees last year, trailing Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. – Fortune 3

Next year, according to Forbes, passengers will be able to fly standby on the same day without a fee. Airlines will create marketing copy, update technology systems, train customer service staff, and assist precious passengers through this seemingly small alteration. Can you imagine the process changes required to track down our luggage and get it on the right plan when we are now revising our travel plans willy-nilly via customer service kiosks and smart phones around the nation. 

What is the price of:

  • Changing: The time to dream up and implement a new vision or even a simple improvement is significant. But, as airlines start messing with luggage and vacations and business travelers, the possible impacts are enormous. One lost bag can take hours of time and drain administrative resources, not to mention the resulting passenger frustration and potential shipping costs. What is it that you want to change? What is the price?
  • Not Changing: United Airlines was first to announce their new fee structure and the other major airlines quickly followed suit. That response underscores the cost of not changing-- apparently more than $650 million! These transportation giants don’t want to become bankrupt or obsolete. They can’t afford to not to change. What are you avoiding (or protecting yourself from) by not changing? What is the price? 

As I reimagined my business while designing my website, I stared out my window pondering every possible impact of the text on one tiny “Call to Action” button. Mine is a much smaller feat than shifting the activities of thousands of baggage handlers making about $35,000 a year in the United States.4 When considering change, don’t forget about people, process, technology… and a good grammar editor!

Sources: 1 NPR: United, Delta, American Say They Are Dropping Change Fees For Domestic Flights; 2 Business Insider: How Much Airfare in the US Costs Today Compared to 10 Years Ago; 3 Fortune: United Airlines is Permanently Eliminating Change Fees on Domestic Plane Tickets; 4 Indeed: Southwest Airline’s Average


by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

 

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