Changing non-refundable to refundable on United
December 19, 2021 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I have a non-refundable ticket on United (USA Domestic) for holiday travel and just received info that the other party may have COVID. Can I get my money back?

While looking at changing the flight dates on, it appears that for extra money, I could re-book both my flights a couple of days later, and choose "Fully Refundable" as the ticket type.

Suppose I did this, and then later decided to cancel the flights entirely. Would I get all of the money back? Or would UAL somehow deduct the original non-refundable tickets and only refund me the additional amount of the refundable tickets?

(Please focus answers on the refund issue only; I know traveling is a bad idea right now)
posted by soylent00FF00 to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Additional question: If I cancel the original non-refundable tickets, do I get a credit? I see mentions of a $200 cancellation fee, but here I see:

Can I cancel a nonrefundable ticket?
If your plans change and you prefer not to change your itinerary immediately, you may cancel your flights and retain the value of the unused portion of the ticket as a future flight credit. For most tickets, future flight credit must be used within 12 months of the date that your original ticket was issued. Future flight credits issued on or before December 31, 2021, will be valid until December 31, 2022. Partially used tickets, regardless of issue date, will be valid for one year from your outbound date of travel. Future flight credits are non-transferable and have no value after they expire.

which doesn't mention any fees...
posted by soylent00FF00 at 9:50 AM on December 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Refunds on United are "credited back to the original form of payment", so if you attempted to refund a ticket that was purchased with a mix of flight credits and cash, I would expect you to get the same mix of cash and flight credits back. (In other words, I don't think this is a loophole for you to convert that flight credit into cash.)
posted by andrewesque at 10:06 AM on December 19, 2021

Best answer: In COVID times you can get your full credit of you flights to use, but they are limited to just you on that airline by a certain date. You won’t be able to get your money back, they are basically now united “funny money”. But unlike past, there are no fees deducted, so the full amount you paid is the full amount you can use.
posted by sandmanwv at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I've changed flights late before, the higher cost due to the later booking made a lot of these questions moot. Like you could apply some of the earlier fee towards the cost but when it is $780 vs $180 for the trip, so what.

Point is, besides exploring changing within the same airline, just shop around again and see if you can score brand-new tickets from a different airline at a lower cost. It may or may not save money but worth looking at.

Also call the airline and explain covid blah-blah-blah and see if they'll just switch flights, give you some better deal etc. It may or may not work but usually worth exploring.
posted by flug at 11:52 AM on December 19, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks all - was in a bit of a panic here, but ended up canceling the flight entirely (which is the right thing to do given the Omicron news) and it looks like I've now got the full amount as a credit with United that I can use in 12 months.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 1:56 PM on December 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

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