United Flight Cancellation Refund

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Mar 29, 2020
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I had 2 flights cancelled by United. They refused to do a cash refund to my credit card even though they cancelled the flights. The only offered a future flight credit. My experience is somewhat similar to what has reported in the article below but I was unable to get a cash refund even after speaking with multiple agents including CS supervisors.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/trav...-policy-during-coronavirus-crisis/2898509001/

I ultimately got so tired speaking with their agents and disputed the charge on my credit card based on US DOT rules. I am now waiting. Is there anything else I should have done differently?
 
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Neil Maley

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We were told by a consolidator we use that the major airlines changed their policy and are only issuing e certificates. We hadn’t seen evidence of this so didn’t post it but if this is what United is saying, it might be true.

Please let us know how your credit card dispute goes. I’m very interested in what the credit card companies do with these.
 
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Jan 25, 2016
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I wonder if they are invoking 'Force Majeure' due to the nature of the virus and various government orders. If I'm not mistaken, I may have heard somewhere that various carriers are invoking it -- but I don't clearly remember what I heard or where. So what may seem like a change of policies is actually invocation of a rarely used section of the Contract of Carriage (COC).

These are the definitions, from Rule 24, Section B.4 of UA's COC"

Force Majeure Event – any of the following situations:
  1. Any condition beyond UA’s control including, but not limited to, meteorological or geological conditions, acts of God, riots, terrorist activities, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities, disturbances, or unsettled international conditions, either actual, anticipated, threatened or reported, or any delay, demand, circumstances, or requirement due directly or indirectly to such condition;
  2. Any strike, work stoppage, slowdown, lockout, or any other labor-related dispute involving or affecting UA’s services;
  3. Any governmental regulation, demand or requirement;
  4. Any shortage of labor, fuel, or facilities of UA or others;
  5. Damage to UA’s Aircraft or equipment caused by another party;
  6. Any emergency situation requiring immediate care or protection for a person or property; or
  7. Any event not reasonably foreseen, anticipated or predicted by UA.
And this is from Rule 24, Section D:
  1. Force Majeure Event - In the event of a Force Majeure Event, UA without notice, may cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight, right of carriage or reservations (whether or not confirmed) and determine if any departure or landing should be made, without any liability on the part of UA. UA may re-accommodate Passengers on another available UA flight or on another carrier or combination of carriers, or via ground transportation, or may refund any unused portions of the Ticket in the form of a travel certificate.
B.4.g would seem to give them a lot of latitude, especially for an unprecedented worldwide situation as we are currently experiencing, and in this context I didn't seen any reference to refunds. Please note that all of the emphasis in the foregoing text is mine.

Please do keep us informed.
 
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Neil Maley

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I wonder if they are invoking 'Force Majeure' due to the nature of the virus and various government orders. If I'm not mistaken, I may have heard somewhere that various carriers are invoking it -- but I don't clearly remember what I heard or where. So what may seem like a change of policies is actually invocation of a rarely used section of the Contract of Carriage (COC).

These are the definitions, from Rule 24, Section B.4 of UA's COC"

Force Majeure Event – any of the following situations:
  1. Any condition beyond UA’s control including, but not limited to, meteorological or geological conditions, acts of God, riots, terrorist activities, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities, disturbances, or unsettled international conditions, either actual, anticipated, threatened or reported, or any delay, demand, circumstances, or requirement due directly or indirectly to such condition;
  2. Any strike, work stoppage, slowdown, lockout, or any other labor-related dispute involving or affecting UA’s services;
  3. Any governmental regulation, demand or requirement;
  4. Any shortage of labor, fuel, or facilities of UA or others;
  5. Damage to UA’s Aircraft or equipment caused by another party;
  6. Any emergency situation requiring immediate care or protection for a person or property; or
  7. Any event not reasonably foreseen, anticipated or predicted by UA.
And this is from Rule 24, Section D:
  1. Force Majeure Event - In the event of a Force Majeure Event, UA without notice, may cancel, terminate, divert, postpone, or delay any flight, right of carriage or reservations (whether or not confirmed) and determine if any departure or landing should be made, without any liability on the part of UA. UA may re-accommodate Passengers on another available UA flight or on another carrier or combination of carriers, or via ground transportation, or may refund any unused portions of the Ticket in the form of a travel certificate.
B.4.g would seem to give them a lot of latitude, especially for an unprecedented worldwide situation as we are currently experiencing, and in this context I didn't seen any reference to refunds. Please note that all of the emphasis in the foregoing text is mine.

Please do keep us informed.
This is exactly what they are invoking.
 
Mar 29, 2020
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For sure, I will keep the community posted on the eventual outcome.

I can understand if the reason for invoking Force Majeure for COVID is an airport shutdown and aircraft can't fly. However, in this case, I deduced that they are cancelling because of reduced demand since there were still flights to my intended destination (the only nonstop option I was offered was scheduled to arrive >10h later or alternate flights with connections, significantly lengthening the travel time)... Having said that, I can see why they would want to cancel a flight if there are only a few people flying because it doesn't make economic sense for them but they should at least give the passengers the option of getting a cash refund in such situations since the airline could have flown but did not want to because they would lose money... Even though customers experience significant inconvenience to have a flight cancelled because the airline doesn't want to lose money, I think most people (me included) understand that these are exceptional times and thus aren't looking for additional compensation... we just want our money back if the airline can't deliver the original itinerary or an acceptable alternative, which, in my opinion, is a reasonable request because I would never have bought the ticket in the first place if the alternate options were the only available itineraries when I first booked...

But we'll see how things unfold... will keep you posted...
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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I see that all travel providers are fighting for their corporate life. Limiting the amount of cash they give in refunds is just sound business practice. United and Delta, for instance, are transporting people, medical volunteers and supplies of all kinds ... the people working those flights, loading and unloading supplies and all the support required need to be paid. They need to be paid now, not a month from now. If airlines run out of cash, it will be a disaster.
 
Jun 29, 2016
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While a lot of airlines are giving credits or refunds albeit partial they are under no obligation to do so. Even with a good Trip Insurance Policy some of them consider COVID19 to be something beyond the airlines control. A gesture of goodwill invokes the Travel Waiver policies and of course it would be very difficult to get a refund when an airline does not have a policy set in place.
 
Mar 18, 2015
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If U.S. airlines receive bailout money from the government, they should be required to refund cancelled flights. I wrote both my senators regarding this. Another thing the airlines could do is extend the use of the credit to the date of the flight. Jet Blue is doing this, my brother bought five flights for spring break last December and Jet Blue allows them to use their credit through April 2021.
 

Neil Maley

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There is a change.org petition my wife started with over 3,000 signatures on it that she is asking everyone who signs to send to their Senators and Congressional Reps asking them to require any airline accepting bailout funds to allow rebooking year from the original travel date. ASTA is requesting two years from original travel date. Blitz your Senators and Representatives with this - tell them how you are affected. That’s the way to try to make change happen.
 

Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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If U.S. airlines receive bailout money from the government, they should be required to refund cancelled flights. I wrote both my senators regarding this. Another thing the airlines could do is extend the use of the credit to the date of the flight. Jet Blue is doing this, my brother bought five flights for spring break last December and Jet Blue allows them to use their credit through April 2021.
I agree, it would be nice if the airlines would extend the use-by date. Extending it to a year from the date of travel would be more enticing than a year from purchase date. I doubt that everyone will be using their credit in the future regardless of the expiration date. Everyone's financial situation has changed (well, except for Jeff Bezos!) and many people will not have the luxury of taking that trip they had initially planned.
 

Neil Maley

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I agree, it would be nice if the airlines would extend the use-by date. Extending it to a year from the date of travel would be more enticing than a year from purchase date. I doubt that everyone will be using their credit in the future regardless of the expiration date. Everyone's financial situation has changed (well, except for Jeff Bezos!) and many people will not have the luxury of taking that trip they had initially planned.
That’s right and the airlines will be keeping that money for those who can’t meet their timeline.
 
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jsn55

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I agree, it would be nice if the airlines would extend the use-by date. Extending it to a year from the date of travel would be more enticing than a year from purchase date. I doubt that everyone will be using their credit in the future regardless of the expiration date. Everyone's financial situation has changed (well, except for Jeff Bezos!) and many people will not have the luxury of taking that trip they had initially planned.
I was just wondering the other day ... if corona disappeared tomorrow, how long would you wait before you were willing to board an airplane? I'd like to say 30 days, but more likely I'd chicken out and put it off longer. And the other thing ... who is flying these days? Other than the moronic spring break kids of course.
 

Neil Maley

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There are people flying to help their elderly or sick relatives, snowbirds going home, there was just a plane load of doctors and nurses from Atlanta who were flying to NYC to assist the overwhelmed doctors or nurses....there are many that still have to fly.
 

weihlac

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I was just wondering the other day ... if corona disappeared tomorrow, how long would you wait before you were willing to board an airplane? I'd like to say 30 days, but more likely I'd chicken out and put it off longer. And the other thing ... who is flying these days? Other than the moronic spring break kids of course.
It depends on your definition of "disappeared". If there were NO new cases reported in the US, I would wait at least 2 weeks. However, there will be new cases reported for many months or even years, and one will need to decide what level of new cases in the US means it is safe to fly. I think it is still too early to put a number or time on this return to flying question. A vaccine will be a game-changer but that is not going to be available soon.

I do not expect to fly anywhere for the next 6 months, will reevaluate monthly.
 
Jan 24, 2020
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On 18 April, 2020, United Airlines cancelled our planned direct business class flight from Dulles (DIA) to Paris (CDG), scheduled for 22 April, 2020, and rebooked us on a “non-direct” flight, which had my wife and I sitting in different parts of the plane. That was not acceptable and was not what we had paid for.

When I spoke to the United representative on the same day, I was offered a full refund to the original credit card, as is appropriate under U.S. Department of Transportation rules. I accepted the offer for a refund.

When the refund did not appear on the credit card, I subsequently contacted United again the week of 30 April, and was once again promised that the refund would be promptly applied to my original credit card.

However, I have not received any refund after 18 days.

So, I sent an e-mail to several of the senior corporate contacts listed in the Corporate Contacts section of this web-site, laying out my concerns and citing the "enforcement Notice" and lo and behold, 4 days later I get an e-mail from United letting me know they have processed my refund request and I would get the credit on my original credit card.

Thanks to Elliott Advocacy and the Forum members.
 

weihlac

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Jun 30, 2017
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On 18 April, 2020, United Airlines cancelled our planned direct business class flight from Dulles (DIA) to Paris (CDG), scheduled for 22 April, 2020, and rebooked us on a “non-direct” flight, which had my wife and I sitting in different parts of the plane. That was not acceptable and was not what we had paid for.

When I spoke to the United representative on the same day, I was offered a full refund to the original credit card, as is appropriate under U.S. Department of Transportation rules. I accepted the offer for a refund.

When the refund did not appear on the credit card, I subsequently contacted United again the week of 30 April, and was once again promised that the refund would be promptly applied to my original credit card.

However, I have not received any refund after 18 days.

So, I sent an e-mail to several of the senior corporate contacts listed in the Corporate Contacts section of this web-site, laying out my concerns and citing the "enforcement Notice" and lo and behold, 4 days later I get an e-mail from United letting me know they have processed my refund request and I would get the credit on my original credit card.

Thanks to Elliott Advocacy and the Forum members.
I am glad you solved your problem but your narrative is very confusing. How did you do something on April 18, 2020 when today is April 8 2020?
 
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Apr 8, 2020
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We just cancelled a United flight to Missoula, MT which we planned for July of this year. We immediately received an electronic travel certificate for the full amount we paid, good for 24 months from date of issue (today). So, while a refund would be better, we understand the predicament the airlines face with Covid-19. They did not cancel our flight, we did--so I think that they are being reasonable by waiving the change/cancellations fees. We will fly again, just not for awhile.
 
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Jan 24, 2020
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I am glad you solved your problem but your narrative is very confusing. How did you do something on April 18, 2020 when today is April 8 2020?
My mistake.. it was 18 MARZCH not April when United cancelled and re-booked us.
 

Neil Maley

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The airlines, cruise lines has suppliers just do not have immediate funds to refund everyone all at once. They are trying to process refunds by date order.

I urge anyone that is waiting for refund to just be patient.