United Now Waiving Fees for Award Ticket Cancellation and Mileage Redeposit

I’ve cancelled American AAdvantage award tickets and Delta SkyMiles tickets for travel in the next month and neither program charged their usual mileage redeposit fee. These fee waivers are normally in place for top tier elite frequent flyers, but where a ‘no change fee’ fee waiver applies to travel, the redeposit fee for mileage tickets has been waived as well.

Not so with United. In many ways this isn’t surprising, they’ve been one of the worst offenders with customer-unfriendly policies during these challenging times. Fortunately it appears this has changed and though there’s been no public announcement or written change on their website, several reports (first brought to my attention by @Haplo859) are that United has ceased imposing these fees.

A mileage redeposit is, effectively, the same as getting a voucher for future travel. The airline isn’t giving you back cash (a conserving cash is the reason so many airlines are resisting legally-required refunds for cancelled flights). And the miles will be used primarily for… future travel on the airline. Miles are a future travel voucher in another form.

For paid tickets many airlines are still fighting refunds. They are waiving change fees but requiring you to hold the funds in the form of a voucher for future travel, which generally has to be ticketed within a year of original purchase.

  • Don’t cancel travel when flights haven’t been cancelled until the last possible minute.
  • You want to wait for the airline to cancel your flight
  • Some airlines have played games with this, not cancelling until within 6-48 hours of travel
  • Carriers are required to provide a refund when they cancel a flight (at least in the U.S. and the E.U.)
  • If they do not provide you with a legally required refund, file a complaint with the Department of Transportation
  • And remember to dispute with your credit card because a merchant cannot keep funds for a service they haven’t delivered.

Good move by United to quietly change their policy on award tickets. They’re still not honoring prompt refunds for cancelled and changed paid flights, however.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Speaking of United and refunds, this weekend the airlines stopped charging the 7.5% Transportation Tax and the U.S. Flight Segment Tax to all future bookings. My question is should previously booked, but not flown, tickets be given a refund of these….or is the tax reprieve only for NEW tickets? If I am due a refund, not sure it’s worth the time and effort to try and squeeze $25/ticket from United.

  2. Just canceled an award flight to Europe painlessly. Miles back in the account and fees in the process of being refunded.

    Canceled a paid ticket and got a credit. If I don’t use it by end of September (I booked it in Sept 2019) they’ll give me a refund.

    Probably the most painless interaction I’ve ever had with United.

  3. Curious if this only applies to awards that apply to CANCELLED flights, or any award ticket for travel before May 31?

  4. Just answered my own question. For a May 31 award reservation where the flight had not yet been cancelled, I was able to get all my miles back, no fee. For a July 26 reservation – even though the “travel waiver” box popped up on the reservation, they wanted to charge me the redeposit fee.

  5. I had award flights to Venice in three weeks. Finally able to painless cancel and redeposit the miles today even though the flights had cancelled weeks ago. Even after they cancelled United was trying to get me to pay a fee.

  6. Thank you for this post Gary. I had a partner award flight on Copa and United was not waiving award redeposit fees. They would cancel the reservation for free and you had a future date before you would have to use those miles. Was refused by 2 agents the redeposit fee waiver and finally accepted the reservation to be cancelled and the miles on hold.

    after reading this post, called (only 20 mins hold) and the agent said that she received redeposit fee waiver from central office and redeposited the miles !! yaay. I wouldn’t have known if i did not read boardingarea 🙂

  7. Thank you, everybody! I am considering visiting Canada this summer. One choice includes using UA miles to fly AC from Edmonton to Montreal in August. I would like to grab my ideal flight, which is now available, but not if I’ll be subject to a $150 (?) fee!

  8. BTW, I also have just enough Singapore miles to book it, but I don’t see any waivers on the KrisFlyer Website. Their normal fee is $50–75.

  9. Tried yesterday to cancel an award flight for May to Osaka via Seoul and United wanted a $50/pp cancellation fee. After reading this I tried again online and they did not charge a fee. Thanks!

    Now is there a way to move the points back to Chase?

  10. I don’t have a reward ticket but I bought a non-refundable ticket from Hawaii to Irvine,Ca. This was one way for the 25th annual jazz festival in Newport Beach. With all the positive coronavirus patients in Irvine & Newport Beach it’s no way I think they’ll have a weekend festival with about 10,000 people. I’ve been flying United since Airline tickets were $99.00 one way LA to Chicago. Not to mention I worked for United as a ramp serviceman. I charged my ticket on my chase United card. I ask for a refund and was denied, it’s bad enough to be denied but this is a Pandemic. Then I think what people are missing is “ you have to rebook & travel within a year of the original purchase. Who buys a ticket for an event or vacation the day before they want to travel. The airlines nickel & dime us for everything, I’m Force to rebook for a trip in March 2021. I don’t need to travel in March. I bought the ticket because it was cheaper. The show is in June 2021. So what am I tray for in March? You should be allowed to rebook an travel within a year of the original travel date. United has really turned out to be very disappointing in these trying times. The view I’ll not go away in 69 days and they no it. It’s very very disheartening.

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