You may have already seen some headlines and or comments on social media where others are pretty much outraged by United Airlines. If you’ve been wondering what’s been going on here is why everyone is so worked up.
United Airlines decided to change their refund policy when it comes to refunds granted for changed United flight schedules. In the past, if United changed your flight to a time more than two hours from your original departure time, they would offer you the chance for a refund.
For example, United stated:
If you decide to no longer travel either because your original flight was canceled or you are delayed two hours or more, you can receive a refund to your original form of payment.
But recently, without notice and amid the global worry of the coronavirus, United Airlines decided to change that policy. Instead of offering a refund when they change your flight time more than two hours, they changed it to a minimum of 25 hours.
This means that your original flight time could be 7 AM on a Monday and United could change the flight schedule so that you depart 7 AM on the next Tuesday and you would not be able to get a refund until 25 hours.
(If you had a good travel rewards card with trip delay/cancellation insurance you could use that to get reimbursed for hotels and non-refundable travel expenses but that really is beside the point.)
Understandably, many people voiced their disapproval of this change. Not only is it extremely anti-customer friendly but it is being changed without notice during a time when people are already struggling to deal with travel woes and worries.
Well, United decided to backtrack a little bit and now will at least offer you a travel credit after those two hours have passed. You will have 15 months to use it from the original ticketing date so you will have a little bit of extra breathing room as opposed to the 12 months that typically is attached to these credits.
There are still a lot of people wondering about the legality of this. The reason is that United has applied this policy retroactively to people who booked their tickets before the changes went into effect. So these new policies were not in the contract of carriage when passengers booked their tickets beforehand.
Therefore, some people are resorting to filing a charge back and disputing the charge if they are not issued a refund after two hours. I think they may have a case to be made but it still is probably a better idea to contact United Airlines first and try to work things out.
Ultimately, it’s nice to see United listen to feedback but their refund policy requiring 25 hours is still pretty insane considering where it was before and considering everything going on around the world right now. By the way, in case you need a refresher on flight delay compensation with US airlines be sure to check out my breakdown of how that works here.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.