United has been desperately trying to avoid handing out refunds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the pandemic, United would provide refunds if they changed your flight schedule by 2 hours or more.
Previously they tried saying that your flight schedule would need to change by 25 or more hours to get a refund, but their lawyers told them that policy wouldn’t stand up in court, so they changed it to 6 hours.
Then United decided if your international flight schedule changed by more than 6 hours you can only get a travel credit valid for 12 months from the time of original purchase. At the end of the 12 months you can then ask United for a cash refund if you haven’t used the travel credit.
Thousands of people filed DOT complaints and the DOT stepped in and said that was not OK and that cash refunds were required, so United went back to offering cash refunds on 6+ hour changes.
However United still refused to provide refunds to people who purchased tickets before the pandemic when their flight was changed by more than 2 hours. The DOT wrote that this was an unfair and deceptive practice and that airlines that refused to honor the terms under which the tickets were sold would face enforcement actions against them.
Best of all they are retroactively honoring cash refunds, even if you already accepted a voucher for a 2+ hour flight change. You can contact United to change that voucher in for a cash refund or file a refund request here.
Once again, kudos goes to the US DOT for keeping the airline industry honest!