United Airlines adds extra step to get refund for seat fees
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Though you’re eligible for a refund when an airline cancels your flight, carriers have tried to wiggle their way out of giving your money back. Many will proactively give you a voucher when they cancel your flight to discourage you from requesting a refund.
For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter
Of the U.S. carriers, United is the worst offender here. It has made multiple updates to its schedule-change policy at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic before landing on its current version: If your flight is canceled, you can only get a refund if the re-accommodated flight departs or arrives more than six hours before or after your original flight.
And now, the Chicago-based carrier is back with a change to the process for claiming a refund for seat fees. Previously, if United couldn’t accommodate a Premium Plus, Economy Plus or Preferred seating purchase, you’d be automatically refunded for that ancillary purchase. This made it easy for passengers to be reassured that they’d be getting all the money back that they deserve.
Well, United has made a change to that policy. Though you’re still entitled to a refund for the seat fee, you now need to manually request your money back.
As noted in the carrier’s updated Contract of Carriage, “the Passenger is eligible for a refund of this fee upon request” (emphasis mine). A United spokesperson confirmed to TPG that these changes are effective immediately.
To request your seat fee refund, you’ll need to fill out United’s refund form. You’ll end up getting your money back within seven business days of when UA approves the claim (which anecdotally has been taking weeks).
Though this is certainly annoying, at least the carrier isn’t changing the refund policy like it did with schedule changes. As a reminder, you’ll need to request your seat fee refund within 90 days of the date the seats were purchased or flight date, whichever is later.
All photos by the author.
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.