As soon as United announced their Coronavirus change waiver I realized there was a simple hack to save $50 off mileage redeposit fees.
For good reason, I don’t post most of the hacks and tricks that come to mind. But then I’ve watched United make it nearly impossible to get a refund without waiting a year, even if they cancelled your flight.
Quite frankly, that’s just wrong. And it’s illegal.
United isn’t the only airline playing dirty pool, many airlines across the globe, from El Al to JetBlue, are refusing refunds on flights they cancelled.
There’s a good deal of irony about airlines asking us to bail them out at the same time that they are illegally refusing to give refunds for flights they cancelled. That’s exactly why I created a Whitehouse.gov petition for a traveler’s bill of rights. You can read more here.
If my experience with American is the standard, no vouchers since this was an “Act of God“
— David Coagulated (@hogganbeck) March 24, 2020
And make sure the recording says “Your call is important to us”.
— Boulder_Sherpa (@Boulder_Sam) March 24, 2020
That did happen to me once. Finally got out on a much-delayed flight, sitting in the last row and no food left in the cart by the time they got to my row.
— Michael Mathews 📎 (@makfan) March 24, 2020
Remember that if you are being refused a refund:
- You can dispute the charge with your credit card. Just note that if you used a personal travel agent you’ll be taking the money out of their pocket rather than the airline’s pocket.
- You can file a complaint with the US DoT or with the relevant local complaint board.
- If those options fail, you can take the airline to small claims court.
I booked several JetBlue awards for later this year and they cancelled my flight, but they’re refusing to refund the 9/11 security fees. Those fees are supposed to be refundable even if you don’t fly, but JetBlue is playing hardball despite cancelling my flights. I’ve filed a DoT complaint against them and plan on disputing the charges as well. It’s the principle more than the money for me.
DDF member and travel agent Chaikel reports that one of his clients filed a DoT complaint against El Al for refusing a refund on a flight they cancelled. El Al called Chaikel saying they got the DoT complaint and asked him to refund the passenger, but Chaikel told the El Al DoT liaison that El Al was blocking the ability to refund the ticket. The El Al rep was floored and had no idea that her airline was disallowing refunds on flights that they cancelled.
@ELALUSA @EL_AL_AIRLINES We are unable to honor your request for $700,000,000 in compensation, but we can offer you a free* flight between Tel Aviv and Europe, subject to capacity controls, fuel surcharges, and an NDA.
We hope that @Israel will be in your future travel plans!
— DansDeals (@DansDeals) March 10, 2020
Many readers have asked for help with United refunds and award redeposits on cancelled flights. While there are some United reps and supervisors that have processed refunds and given miles back, many are insisting that passengers wait 12 months to get their cash or miles back.
If passengers want their miles back now they are told that they need to pay a $125/ticket redeposit fee. That’s unconscionable for a flight cancelled by United.
But as I said above, there’s a simple hack to make it a bit less painful.
All tickets purchased before 3/2 for travel through 5/31 or all tickets purchased during March for travel any time can be changed for free.
The cost to redeposit a mileage ticket is $125 if you are traveling within the next 60 days (or less if you have elite status):
So all you need to do is use the free change policy to make your ticket more than 60 days from now. And then you’ll get $50 off the fee to get your miles back immediately after making that change.
You’ll still have to pay $75 if you don’t have status, but it’s something. And you can always try disputing the charge and filing a complaint with the DoT.
If you have Platinum status, using the free change will make redeposit fees free.
Have you run into roadblocks trying to get a refund? What steps have you taken?