I read on the United Airlines 24-hour refund policy (mirror):

  • Under our 24-hour flexible booking policy, if your ticket was purchased through United in the last 24 hours and you completed your purchase one week or more before the original scheduled departure flight, it may qualify for waiver of change or cancellation fees.
  • Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for changes, but are eligible for a full refund inside 24 hours of booking as long as you completed your purchase one week or more before the original scheduled departure flight.

Basic Economy tickets are clearly fully refundable within 24 hours of booking. Are other ticket types also fully refundable within 24 hours of booking?

The quote above says "it may qualify for waiver of change or cancellation fees.", which indicates neither the certainty nor the entirety of the refund.

Assume that the flight ticket purchase is made one week or more before the original scheduled departure flight.

  • 2
    Why not call them and ask for clarification? Feb 22, 2022 at 1:16
  • 3
    That should be plan A if you have specific questions about a specific company's policies. There's no way a random collection of strangers on the internet is going to be able to give you a "better" answer. Feb 22, 2022 at 1:19
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    I believe it is a US DoT policy that all flights purchased in the US are refundable within 24 hours (probably with that 7 days before flight caveat). What United try to make appear like a generous policy in their part is actually just a legal obligation (though it is possible le they do more than the legal requirement).
    – jcaron
    Feb 22, 2022 at 1:23
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    Yes, it's incorrect. While the airline can "offer" anything it wants, this is (legally speaking) a counteroffer contingent on the customer withdrawing the claim for refund. If in response the customer says "No thanks, I cancel and I want a refund" then the refund demand remains, and the airline is obligated to refund. Feb 22, 2022 at 3:14
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    @DavidSupportsMonica The DOT rule is that the airline has to offer (if purchased at least 7 days before departure) either a refund within 24 hours or a 24 hour hold without paying. Most US airlines have picked the refund option, though some are more generous with the deadline than what the regulations require and American sometimes offers holds in addition. United could choose to offer only holds and no refunds, but they didn't. Feb 22, 2022 at 3:39

2 Answers 2


Are other ticket types also fully refundable within 24 hours of booking?

Yes. For more clarification: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/reservations/refunds/24-hour-booking-policy.html

All tickets are eligible for cancellation with full refund. Non Basic Economy tickets may ALSO be eligible for free changes.

In practice the "free change within 24 hours" has little real benefit (other than maybe short term cash flow). If you want a change you can always cancel and book new and in fact, that's a lot cleaner and easier. For changes there is nothing magic about 24 hours. Since United has waived almost all change fees anyway, a change after 12 hour is no different from a change after 36 hours.

Anecdote: I have cancelled within 24 hours a few flights with United and never had a problem. You go on the website, hit cancel and a few days later the money returns to your credit card.


As a complement to Hilmar's answer, I'd note 2 dirty tricks from United Airlines I've noticed when I booked and canceled a flight ticket with them:

Dirty Trick 1: United Airlines' website sometimes doesn't allow customers to cancel the ticket, but instead ask to call the customer service. This means one better not try to cancel after 23 hours and 59 minutes after the purchase of the flight ticket.:

We are unable to process your request. To continue with the cancellation of this trip, contact us at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).

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Dirty Trick 2: After calling the customer service and canceling a flight ticket with them, no confirmation email is sent. This means that the customer has no record of the cancelation or the cancelation request, so one has to pray that customer service representative didn't mess up. Going to https://www.united.com/en/us/manageres/mytrips, the trip is not marked as canceled, but instead most of the ticket information has disappeared.

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