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I had a reservation on United Airlines a few weeks ago that was traveling from USA to UK. I never even made it out of the USA. The first leg of my flight was delayed and I missed the second leg as a result. I believe I'm entitled to a full refund because the delay was entirely United's fault and the time given to make the connection was too short in the first place. Any alternative flights to get me to the UK were too late to make the trip worth it, so they sent me back to my origin airport. I flew one leg, then flew back; a total waste of my time and money.

I've found United's Ticket Refund Request page, but from among the types listed, I've only found "Checked bag refund" that applies. None of the options are along the lines "reservation" or "itinerary" refund. I originally called a United support number and they incorrectly told me that I had to email refunds@united.com. That email auto-replied that it does not accept inbound messages. For now, I've just submitted a refund request on that page for the baggage fee, but included details about the other things as well.

What I want to know specifically is all the avenues available to me to contact United regarding such a refund request.


This particular reservation had a lot going on with it, so I don't think an email pipeline is going to be effective in getting refunded. The following is a description of what was paid and how, of which I want all of it refunded.

The flight was purchased with miles, plus some money. A third of the miles used were purchased just before booking the reservation with the sole intention to be that I'd have enough miles to book the reservation with miles only. I had to check two bags, which was the $100 international second bag fee. So I want United to refund me for the checked bag, the taxes and fees for the reservation, my earned miles spent on the reservation, and the money spent on the extra miles. With so much going on with this reservation, you can see how none of those options on the refund page fit.


Update:

Success! United actually refunded everything from the single "Checked bag refund" that I put in originally, as detailed above. A week later, they refunded the $100 checked bag fee. A day after that, they refunded the taxes, fees, and other charges when placing the reservation. They then contacted me via email and said they have refunded the miles back to my account, but they'd have to forward the request to refund the miles purchase to a different department. About a week later, they then refunded the miles purchase and took back the miles from my account. It was actually pretty easy on my part. I just detailed what I wanted from them and they did all of it, though it did take about two weeks.

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You want "E-Ticket Refund" in the form. Unless you did something special to convert the ticket, your ticket was an E-Ticket.

It's this way because the old-style paper ticket is a negotiable document, so the only way to refund those is to hand them over at a counter or mail it in. Admittedly, they should put "Ticket Refund (E-Tickets only)" or something like that.

I would submit all the information and state that you want a full refund of the ticket and ancillaries due to a delay and misconnect. No point in making a big fuss or blaming connect times before giving them a chance to respond and follow their own policies.

  • Thanks, I'll try this. The form only gives 1000 characters, which is a bit hard with so many things going on with this reservation. – fredsbend Oct 23 '18 at 22:15
  • Either form will allow you to attach documents, which could include a succinct letter explaining the situation. – Zach Lipton Oct 23 '18 at 22:22
  • @ZachLipton Ah, yes. Thanks, that's a great idea. – fredsbend Oct 23 '18 at 22:37
  • Turns this wasn't needed. See my update in the answer. I think I got lucky. However, I believe you are right about which of the dropdown options I should have chosen, so I'm giving you the selection. – fredsbend Nov 15 '18 at 0:50
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Contact United Customer Relations. They'd prefer you use the contact form, but you can email CustomerCare@united.com too. Christopher Elliott has additional contacts for United and suggestions to reach a resolution of common travel problems, but you should go through the normal contact process before trying to write any executives.

Lay out everything in a polite, concise letter. I would be prepared to explain specifically why the delay was entirely their fault, as they are likely to blame weather or other circumstances outside of their control unless there's something obvious like a maintenance delay.

I'd also review their Contract of Carriage so you understand what rules apply to this situation.

Purchases of miles are strictly non-refundable, so I wouldn't spend much energy arguing that you're entitled to a cash refund for the money you spent on the miles.

  • Factors outside their control is a valid excuse for not paying for food or hotel, but the ticket should be refundable in all cases (as long as they can't get you to the destination within 2 hours of the original schedule). So there's no reason to get into blame in this case. – user71659 Oct 23 '18 at 22:02
  • Thanks. For the record, the delay seemed to be related to some admin BS. We taxied out to the runway, then went back to retrieve "paperwork", according to the captain. – fredsbend Oct 23 '18 at 22:11
  • @user71659 Do you have a source that states that not getting a passenger to the destination within 2 hours of the original schedule would entitle anyone to a full refund? – jcaron Oct 23 '18 at 22:12
  • "Purchases of miles are strictly non-refundable" Everything's non-refundable, until you press the issue and finally get what you want. – fredsbend Oct 23 '18 at 22:13
  • @fredsbend that could have been code for "we have an unruly passenger on board and we are going to have the police pick him up". Depending on the type of aircraft, there's a distinct possibility you don't know the actual reason for the return to gate. – jcaron Oct 23 '18 at 22:13

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