United New Schedule Change Policy: Refund After 1 Year

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Is it Any Wonder Why Passengers Hate United? After the debacle of United's 25 Hour Schedule Change Policy, United backtracked to allow refunds on a “case by case” basis, still hoping to stanch the cash outflows as revenue goes off a cliff. Next was United's best policy to date during the coronavirus, permitting refunds after scheduled changes of more than 6 hours.

But now, as Brett Snyder (Cranky Flier) reports, United will only provide a United travel credit for flight changes of >6 hours, usable for 12 months from the time of purchase of the original flight. Only if the passenger doesn't use the credit at the end of those 12 months will United issue a refund:

Our goal remains to automatically re-book as many customers as possible within 6 hours of their originally scheduled flight. For any customer whose international travel is disrupted by more than 6 hours because of schedule changes resulting from government restrictions, they will retain a credit equal to the value of their ticket. That credit can be used towards any flight to any destination for 12 months from the time of purchase. If the customer chooses not to use the credit, they will receive a refund to their original form of payment at the end of that 12 month period. Importantly, this new way of helping customers manage through changing flight schedules also applies to residents from other countries that effectively can no longer travel to the U.S. because they would face a 14-day quarantine upon arrival as well as customers impacted more broadly by government-mandated travel restrictions or quarantines. In addition this change also maintains our ability to manage our business through this evolving and difficult set of circumstances.

While unquestionably the airlines are really hurting right now, and airlines are going bankrupt, this is terrible for the many consumers who can't afford to extend United an interest free loan for 12 months (yes, I realize interest is close to zero, but still–there are other things people need to put that money towards). And while United and other airlines may well get government assistance, many of United's passengers are in danger of losing their jobs or seeing a significant decrease in income, given the current coronavirus crisis. Also, compare this to American Airlines, where a schedule change of 121 minutes more entitles you to a refund to the original form of payment. See Airline Schedule Change Refund Rules.

Frankly, if you're affected by this and bought your ticket when United's policy was that a 2+ hour change entitled you to a refund, I'd dispute this with your credit card company.

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