Can you help me figure out United Airline's flight change policy?
March 12, 2020 3:41 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I have decided not to take our trip to Mexico City from March 14-19. We purchased the tickets on February 25. Fortunately, United is offering free flight changes for these tickets. But, I am having a hard time understanding how the new policy works. Can you help?

Below is the relevant information I have gotten from this page on United's site. I have been unable to get through to anyone on the phone, and I don't want to keep trying as others might be in more serious situations.

The web site will not let me cancel.

It looks like our best option is to guess at a good time to reschedule, go for it, and hope that if our guess doesn't work out, we can reschedule again or cancel under the March-3-through-31 rule.

Am I reading this right? Thank you for any help you can give, especially if you've just been through the same thing :)

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Booking a new flight: We know people are taking a second look at their travel plans right now, and we want you to have flexibility when planning your next trip — that's why when you book a flight with us between March 3 and March 31, 2020, you can change it for free over the next 12 months. See terms and conditions

Rescheduling a trip: We’re also waiving change fees for all tickets issued on or before March 2 — domestic or international — with original travel dates of March 9 through April 30. See waiver details

Flight changes:
New tickets must be reissued on/before December 31, 2020 or 12 months from original ticket date, whichever is earlier
Rebooked travel must commence within 12 months from the original ticket issue date

Original ticket must be issued on or before: March 2, 2020

Tickets: For tickets issued March 3 through March 31, 2020, customers will be permitted to change free of charge to a flight of equal or lesser value up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date. If the new flight is priced higher, the customer may change for no fee but must pay the fare difference. If the new flight is priced lower, the customer may change for free but no residual value will be given. If the customer decides to cancel their flight, they can retain the value of the ticket to be applied to a new ticket without fee for travel up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date.

Cancellations: If the customer decides to cancel the flight they booked between March 3 and March 31, 2020, they can retain the value of the ticket to be applied to a new ticket without fee for travel up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date.
posted by TrarNoir to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It sure sounds like you should be able to cancel the flight. You won't get your money refunded; rather, you'll have a cancelled reservation that you will be able to change to another flight at a later date. Normally this would involve change fees, but those fees are what United is (supposedly) waiving. From here:
If your plans change and you prefer not to change your itinerary immediately, you may cancel the reservation and return to it to make changes for up to one year from the date of issue. A change fee may apply.
What do you mean by "the web site will not let me cancel"? What happens when you view your itinerary via their website?
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:22 PM on March 12, 2020


It looks like our best option is to guess at a good time to reschedule, go for it, and hope that if our guess doesn't work out, we can reschedule again or cancel under the March-3-through-31 rule.

I don’t think that’s quite right. Your ticket was originally issued before March 2nd, so you can ignore the March 3rd to 31st part. That seems to be only for new bookings, not rebooked tickets. Based on the current info, I don’t think you can rebook twice for free. (This may change later).

There’s more of an explanation here at USA Today.: "Passengers who don't know when they want to travel again, can cancel their flight and receive a voucher for the value of their ticket. They will not have to pay a change fee when they redeem the voucher."
posted by scorbet at 4:24 PM on March 12, 2020


I've gone through this with a different airline for a different reason (Air France because of the rotating train strikes a couple years ago) and the standard approach is that they waive the fees for one change or cancellation but that's it, so your options are either
a) cancel and get a credit for travel within 12 months of the original flight date
b) reschedule and make that new timeframe work
c) reschedule hoping it works but if it doesn't pay the change fee to change again.
posted by urbanlenny at 4:36 PM on March 12, 2020


I had a United flight booked for similar dates and I was able to cancel online. You might try again.

If that doesn't work, call and cancel. You'll get a credit for a future flight. Hold times are long.
posted by medusa at 4:43 PM on March 12, 2020


Thanks, all. Every time I’ve tried to cancel, the page just refreshes. I will keep trying and also try calling tomorrow.
posted by TrarNoir at 5:54 PM on March 12, 2020


I was able to cancel the flight this evening, and the cancellation page (which I was unable to access earlier today) made it clear how to access my credit when I choose new flights.

Thank you for all the help!
posted by TrarNoir at 8:47 PM on March 12, 2020


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