On Airlines Not Giving Refunds And A Simple Hack To Save $50 On United Award Redeposit Fees

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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.

 

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.

 

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?

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84 Comments On "On Airlines Not Giving Refunds And A Simple Hack To Save $50 On United Award Redeposit Fees"

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Yossi

What about hotels not wanting to issue a refund but just a “voucher” for a future stay?

WCF

Good luck getting more then a travel credit if you booked with Chase Travel.

Danfan+

Even if you flight is cancelled?

simplicity

they sent me a email saying that they are goona refund the points, did you hear other wise?

Mark

What can I do if I have Jet Blue tickets for Pesach to Orlando that I won’t be using?

SF

What’s link for DoT complaints?

Asks

Also BA is playing shady games. Had an avios booking EWR>LHR>TLV for after pesach they cancelled.
Per the email they send out, you’re directed to a page where you can agree to a future travel credit.
I guess if you want actual avios or cash refund you need to have nothing better to do and wait for 2-3 hours for customer service.

philco

Not sure I put a link here but check out the British travel blogger headforpoints for a post they did on 3/19/20. It explains how to get the BA website to display the cash refund option (assuming you used BA Avios here). Basically you need to disable javascript at a certain point in refund process in order to display the cash refund option. I proactively cancelled two Avios bookings today online following their process and it worked a charm.

Kate

I had BA TKTS FROM EWR-LHR-TLV FOR APRIL 1 and return 3 weeks later. They cancelled the flights. Don’t bother with online, as you’ll only get a future travel credit. No other option online. While charging my phone, put them on speaker, did some stuff around the house. 30 minutes later got a rep on phone and got full refund back on card. So if it is a refund your looking for, pays to call and be patient. A good time may be when it is early am in the U.K.

emgee

I called United to cancel a flight to Israel. They canceled right away and redeposited the funds with penalty.

Glushtygiz

Great screenshots in there it’s ridiculous what these airlines carry on. I had to do a rebook for a canceled ua tlv JFK. Rescheduled for in 3 months from now but dont wanna take that flight either what shud I do then to get a redeposit

Bob dole

The airline didn’t cancel my flight but changed the time from late evening to mid-day. I have no intention of flying, even had they not changed my flight, do I have any recourse?

m65

klm canceled my return from jfk-tlv, i paid on my amex biz plat, if i dispute charge, i dispute half the amount?

Joe

@DAN your thoughts on US citizens with UA flights to TLV that have yet to be canceled. Have you heard of UA refunding USD because of the entry restrictions?

Ben

What do I do if I booked through Chase UR using points on United and the flight actually has been delayed a few hours and the flight date is not for another week? I mistakenly fell into chase UR trap and responded to that email stating that you can request cancellation and they will check with the airline and get back to me. Little did I know that they will cancel it automatically without asking me first without letting me know what the airline decided. I thought I would have the opportunity for a possible refund and then if not they would give me the option of a credit which I would have gone ahead and refused. It was 3 tickets from Florida to Newark. Am I out of luck? Will filing a charge back with my CC work now after I fell into that trap?

Chaya

United was s giant pain but delta was smooth. Miles deposited for one flight. Second flight was cancelled and was rebooked by them. Cancelled online but miles didnt refund. Ed and 5 min later miles in my acct.

Mimi k

I had a flight this past Sunday with Frontier EWR – LAS
they also sent me 10 emails to go online and cancel my flight for a credit.
I waited till Friday afternoon when I was scared to be considered no show.
I waited on hold for 48 minutes and then they actually charged it back to my card.
After checking availability I was one of the last to cancel. Sometime late Shabbos afternoon they canceled the flight. they were hoping everybody would take the credit before they canceled. But overall a better experience than most are having here

Barry D

Had a United mileage ticket from TLV for our daughter back to EWR originally scheduled for yesterday but ended up bringing her back earlier on a purchased El Al group flight. I called up United and asked what I should do since I do not want to pay the fee, the representative told me that she would waive it and credit back the mileage, the initial tax and fees and not charge me anything.

As Dan always says, “ask nicely, it can’t hurt”.

MK

Any options for a delta flight that was canceled by them and max offer is a travel credit?

sam

Why people are all talk crying,complaining but not doing what they have to do to get refunds from United? Two of my friend got full refund on their card and one of them didn’t pay fees to cancel award award and no redeposit fee after disputing the chard with their card company and filing complaint with DOT. Only 7 days it took to get their full refund and miles back.

Art Z

I don’t know why or how this happened, but last week I had a United basic economy ticket (mercifully a short flight), and I canceled on line. The only option was a credit good for up to a year, so I took it. A few days later, I got an email that my refund had been processed. Indeed, the credit was right there on my Chase United Explorer card. I hadn’t talked to anyone, and United did it on its own. I also canceled a hotel room through trip.com online and got a message that it was nonrefundable, and if I didn’t show up, I would be charged $499 anyway. I sent trip.com an email, and I got an apology and a cancellation without fee.

sam

I too just called to cancel United asia award without miles redeposit fee after speaking to the manager and threated with DOT complaint.

deb

Is DOT complaint only for US airlines? Or, does it cover El Al as well?

HW

@Dan your not worried they’ll sue you? 😉

AA Web Special

Has anyone been successful getting these miles redeposited into their account without the $200/fee? Usually these web special flights are mileage flights that are not refundable, I called AA regarding my upcoming Pesach flights and they wouldn’t budge…

sam

AA first wanted to charge me $175 fee, two people for canceling my web special awards. They even took my card info. Later they released statement saying even those who booked before March can cancel for free. so i called back but they told me I wasn’t charged the $175 fee and I checked my card statement and I was refunded the tax and no award redeposit fee charged.

nirc

any suggestions on how to get AA to redeposit my miles for a flight to canada without paying extra fee? flight is still flying though I cant cross the border due to new rules for non essential travel.

mark

believe it or not, I had no trouble getting a refund from Allegiant Air for a flight they canceled. Was expecting a nightmare fight from them but they gave me no problems not even to refund me for prepaid baggage charges (other then an 1:07 hold time- but hey you get what you pay for:)

Howard

They told me they won’t even refund if the flight is cancelled. Here’s a hack:take the deal to extend for a year, then book a miles flight for very cheap. They will then refund the balance of the miles and fees.

YouG

I Have group of tickets on United for Pesach domestic. I called and they said chances are flight won’t be cancelled and esp if I don’t, since we are 24 seats. I can only get a credit and only if I cancel at least 24-48 hours prior. So if I wait until closer than that I will lose the full amount. Any better way to handle this except to give in and take a large credit I may not use…

LG

Can you file a DoT complaint against a car rental company?

Ari

I booked an AA millage web special for Pesach. The flights haven’t been canceled yet but we’re obviously not going at this point. Do have any chance at getting the miles back without the redeposit fee?

elal

I booked with a travel agent, is it wrong to dispute? Can’t they forward the claim to El Al?

Yitz

Anyone with experience taking airlines to small claims court out there?

Yisro

have 2 Chase UR points flight, booked for tonight with United TLV-EWR. They cancelled my return flight and I don’t want to use the inbound flight. I tried to reach chase for hours and days, with no avail. I filled out the cancellation form online. I did not get a response from them yet. Can they consider this no show or will they at leas give me a credit?

trying to do the right thing

Hi, I booked with Swiss through an online booking company. They are telling me they don”t know when I will get my money back, is it proper to dispute on the credit card? will they get the money from the airlines?

Tzvi

I booked a trip with EL AL for the new Non-Stop flight from Chicago to TLV for May. EL AL canceled the route until the end of June.
I booked it with Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Will I be able to get my money back from ELAL or Chase?

YS

Can I just dispute the charge?

boogie

i got a full refund for 6 tickets booked on AirSerbia. had no problems at all.

ploni3

Canada’s version of the DOT came out with a shocking opinion: The Canadian Transportation Agency says airlines are not required to refund passengers for flights cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other reasons outside an airline’s control.
https://www.citynews1130.com/2020/03/26/airlines-owe-passengers-vouchers-but-not-refunds-for-cancelled-flights-watchdog/

Lynn

El al says I am entitled to a refund bec my flight time changed by more than 5 hours but since I booked with a travel agent they said I have to get money back from agent. My travel agent says el al lying and I am just entitled to a credit. I paid el al on my cc should I dispute since my agent not cooperating?

mf

Dan
does the hack to get rid of the close-in booking fee of $75 still work?

Amn

Dan, have you heard of the airline taking a future action against someone who disputes a credit card charge with them – like cancelling their mileage accounts for example?

I have a flight to Tampa April 12, and despite Florida’s restrictions and them changing the flight by 4 hours they are not budging on the redeposit fee. But I’m not going either way. Doing your 60 day hack and my status would mean I would pay $25 x 5 tickets on an award reservation that only cost me 7000 points Each. But I’m sitting on many hundred of thousand united points and don’t want to risk that.

Not sure what to do in case they close this loophole want to act now. Thanks for your help.

Kate

I have platinum status on United. I paid on my presidential United card for flights. They did not cancel flight for 3/31 from FLL-EWR and flight on 4/21 from EWR-FLL. If I cancel at this time (5days before first flight) I will get voucher for amount paid. I’d rather get refund. Should I still be waiting until they cancel.

Neal

I received the following e-mail re: our El Al flights EWR to TLV: Dear EL AL Passenger,
Due to the COVID-19 situation your flight has been canceled.
At this period we will freeze your ticket.
Change of a destination or receiving a refund for your ticket will be done once we will return to a full operations.
You can follow our flight schedule on our website : http://www.elal.com
We wish to apologize for the inconvenience.
EL AL Israel Airlines. Came from elalinfo@elal.co, but it did not specify my name or flight info. Next to the address line was a logo for “Sabra Travel Club” which I never heard of. Is this a trustworthy e-mail cancellation, or is this likely a spam, since it is not specific to me or my flight reserv code (other than my e-mail address?) ElAL website to look at “Manage My Flight” does not work to view cancellation.

deb

My experience — once ElAl announced ‘suspension’ of al flights after Thursday night, my flight to Israel is no longer listed in my ‘future flights.’ (However, my return still is.) If your flight is still listed for you personally on El Al, I would suspect that email might not be true.

cat

interesting idea. i have a united mileage award ticket coming up next week to a country that has issued a travel ban so the flight has obviously been canceled. when i last called united, they would not waive the redeposit fee. i am going to call back closer to the flight date to see if i get a different result, but i also thought of just paying the $125 redeposit fee to get my miles back and trying to dispute it with my credit card company (chase).

Sky121

Called in Friday and they wanted to charge me a redeposit fee to cancel. Said no thanks. Called in today and rep cancelled my ticket no problem. Didn’t even have to put up a fight or speak to a supervisor. Miles already in my account.

Meme

Been on hold with Travelocity for over 4 hours, they’re not answering. But they have emailed and texted asking me to cancel my flights, it’s now 2 days before, and I’m gonna wait for the refund, the airline I’m supposed to fly on has canceled all flights.

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