United will now refund COVID tests for delayed or canceled flights
One of the many requirements of pandemic-era travel is a COVID test.
Most international destinations, as well as some states, require a negative test taken within a specified window before departure to avoid a mandatory quarantine.
But what happens if your flight ultimately gets delayed, thereby invalidating your negative test by the time you land at your destination?
Well, United now has your back. Effectively immediately, the Chicago-based carrier will refund your COVID test if your flight is delayed due to a controllable issue, like a maintenance or staffing problem.
A carrier spokesperson confirmed that customers with delayed flights can submit their test receipts to United’s customer care department. The carrier will refund up to $200 per traveler. Alternatively, flyers can choose miles or an electronic travel certificate as compensation, but it wasn’t immediately clear if United would offer higher values for those more restrictive payment methods.
Any test receipt will be considered for a refund, not just those offered by United for certain destinations, like Hawaii. If you don’t have a receipt, the carrier will offer some sort of credit to be determined based on your unique situation.
United’s top-tier Premier 1K and invite-only Global Services members have even more flexibility. The carrier will refund tests for those elite travelers even if the delay is out of the carrier’s control, like during inclement weather or air traffic control ground stops.
While a COVID test refund is certainly a welcome move, most travelers will face other significant inconveniences — well outside of United’s control — when arriving without a valid negative result.
In some cases, depending on the country, you may not even be permitted to board your departure flight. Other nations might force you into quarantine when you arrive — not the best way to start a trip.
Fortunately, United promises to work with customers in such cases. Significantly delayed and canceled flights are eligible for refunds, and the carrier told TPG that it will do its best to reaccommodate flyers in other exceptional circumstances.
Of the many factors to consider with pandemic-era travel, an invalidated COVID test is one at the top of my personal checklist.
To avoid getting stuck, I always get two tests before departure — one just at the outset of the 72- or 96-hour window and one on the day of departure. This way, I can ensure that I don’t end up missing a trip due to a flight delay.
Featured image by Zach Griff, TPG
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.