United Airlines makes it much easier to use up travel credits

Jul 30, 2020

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Are you swimming in United Airlines Electronic Travel Certificates (ETCs)? You’re certainly not alone. As coronavirus began leading airlines and travelers to cancel flights back in March, a number of carriers made every attempt to hold onto cash. Some insisted customers accept future travel credits instead of full refunds, even if that’s ultimately what flyers were entitled to.

Fortunately, United has just made it much easier to redeem your ETCs, whenever you’re ready to fly again. For years, certificate holders have been able to apply just one ETC per passenger, though recently it has been possible to call United’s reservations team to have ETCs combined — you could have three $100 certificates rolled into one to book a single $300 flight, for example, rather than redeeming them for one flight each.

Now, the airline has eliminated the need to reach out to a call center. Effective immediately, you can redeem multiple ETCs online. I was able to pair five together to book a flight, and still had the option to add more. You’ll add them under the “Travel certificates” tab on the payment page, just as before. You can also redeem multiple travel certificates when booking through United’s mobile apps.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

United has added the ability for customers to redeem ETCs for seat purchases, too, including Economy Plus — when you add a seat assignment during the booking process, the travel certificate will cover the entire amount, including any seat reservation fees.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

Unfortunately United’s ETCs can only be redeemed for United or United Express flights, even if they were originally issued for canceled partner travel. You do have more time to use them, though. While ETCs previously expired just one year from the issue date, the airline doubled the deadline during the pandemic, giving flyers a full two years to redeem their certificates. And, since they only need to be redeemed by that date and can be applied to future flights, you’ll have an extra 11 months to travel on them, too.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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