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Rebooking into a refundable ticket and then cancel for refund?

Rebooking into a refundable ticket and then cancel for refund?

Old Jan 25, 18, 9:57 am
  #1  
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Rebooking into a refundable ticket and then cancel for refund?

Hi there, I am new to this forum and wishes to seek your help on my airtix.

Recently, I booked a UA airticket from London to Cancun round-trip departing in July 2018 for a good deal but unfortunately for some reason I have to cancel that trip. Because my ticket is a "good deal", it is non-refundable and on the "manage my reservations" webpage it says "This reservation has no refundable value if cancelled. A refund will not be credited." I think I am going to lose USD1010 so I am trying to minimize my lost.

Interestingly, while I will lose the whole value of the tickets if I were to have it cancelled, UA actually allows me to make use of the original value of the ticket and "change flight" on payment of the fare difference plus a change fee (around USD180). Indeed, I am allowed to rebook a new economy fare class (B) ticket and that ticket is refundable! The change/refund section of the fare conditions reads like this:

------------------------------------
GENERAL RULES TEXT
CANCELLATIONS
BEFORE DEPARTURE
CANCELLATIONS PERMITTED.
NOTE -
-- EXCHANGE - CHANGE TO 1ST TICKETED FLIGHT /
WHOLLY UNUSED TICKET
--
RESIDUAL VALUE MAY BE REFUNDED OR APPLIED
) TOWARD PURCHASE OF NEW TICKET AT CURRENT
FARE LEVELS ANY DIFFERENCE IN FARE / TAX
COLLECTED/REFUNDED AT TIME OF TICKET EXCHANGE.
--------
THE OPTIONAL PAYMENT CHARGE WILL NOT BE REFUNDED.
NOTE -
--
HALF ROUNDTRIP COMBINATION OF NON-REFUNDABLE /
REFUNDABLE WITH A CANCELLATION PENALTY /
FULLY REFUNDABLE -
- THE MOST RESTRICTIVE CANCELLATION PENALTY
RULE APPLIES TO THE ENTIRE PRICING UNIT -
--
CANCELLATIONS
AFTER DEPARTURE
CANCELLATIONS PERMITTED.
NOTE -
--CALCULATE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FARE PAID AND
QUALIFYING FARE FOR TRAVEL COMPLETE
USING FARES OF ORIGINAL TICKET DATE /
REFUND RESIDUAL VALUE IF ANY TO ORIGINAL
FORM OF PAYMENT.
--------
THE OPTIONAL PAYMENT CHARGE WILL NOT BE REFUNDED.
CHANGES
CHANGES PERMITTED.
NOTE -
--
CHANGE MADE TO OTHER THAN THE FIRST TICKETED
FLIGHT COUPON -
--
THE FARE LEVELS IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF
ORIGINAL TICKET ISSUE WILL APPLY - ALL
PROVISIONS OF ORIGINAL TICKETED FARE APPLY.
--
IF THE NEW ITINERARY QUALIFIES FOR THE
ORIGINAL TICKETED BOOKING CODE FARE -
BUT RESULTS IN A HIGHER FARE -
DUE TO DAY OF WEEK TRAVEL / SEASONALITY /
CHANGE TO FARE BREAK POINT -
COLLECT DIFFERENCE IN FARE.
//OR//
RESULTS IN A LOWER FARE - DUE TO DAY OF WEEK
TRAVEL / SEASONALITY / CHANGE TO FARE BREAK
POINT -
REFUND DIFFERENCE IN FARE TO ORIGINAL FORM OF
PAYMENT AT THE TIME OF REISSUE.
--
CHANGE MADE TO OTHER THAN THE FIRST TICKETED
FLIGHT RESULT IN THE NEW ITINERARY NO LONGER
QUALIFYING FOR THE ORIGINAL TICKETED BOOKING
CODE FARE -
THE FULL VALUE MAY BE APPLIED TOWARD NORMAL
FARES IN EFFECT ON THE ORIGNAL TICKET ISSUE
DATE.
) --
FARE IS RECALCULATED FROM POINT OF ORIGIN OF
JOURNEY.
--------------------------------------

Now, if I go for this option and rebook this new ticket and then cancel this new ticket, is that true that I can get refund for this new ticket (minus the change fee)?

Many thanks!
Rckl1016 is offline  
Old Jan 25, 18, 10:03 am
  #2  
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Originally Posted by Rckl1016 View Post
Now, if I go for this option and rebook this new ticket and then cancel this new ticket, is that true that I can get refund for this new ticket (minus the change fee)?

Many thanks!
No. When you use a non-refundable ticket to pay for a refundable ticket, the original non-refundable amount stays non-refundable.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 10:30 am
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You would end up with an ETC for the coupon value of the old ticket, right?
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Old Jan 25, 18, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
You would end up with an ETC for the coupon value of the old ticket, right?
You wind up with another ticket which can be applied to a new itinerary subject to payment of applicable change fee. This can go on forever (until the ticket expires, one year from original issuance).

The way you get an ETC is by applying existing ticket value to a ticket that costs less.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 10:44 am
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As others have said, once you buy a non-refundable fare, that money will (barring IRROPS or some other unusual circumstance) not be refunded to your original method of payment. Unless you are on a Basic Economy (fare class N) fare, you can pay the applicable change fee and apply the residual value towards a future ticket on United for up to 1 year from the original date of issuance. You must cancel the flight before departure of the first leg (or before departure of the next leg if you are in the middle of the trip) to retain value. You should retain the ticket number and confirmation information to be able to apply this value to a future ticket. You will pay the change fee when you utilize the residual value in the future, not at the time of cancellation (to my knowledge). I am fairly certain this is not possible to do online and must be done by calling United directly.

Even if you change your flight, the amount you bought as a non-refundable ticket will stay non-refundable. The new fare rules will apply to any *extra* money you give United, but the original money will have the same refundability of the original ticket - i.e. not under normal circumstances.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 10:49 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
You wind up with another ticket which can be applied to a new itinerary subject to payment of applicable change fee. This can go on forever (until the ticket expires, one year from original issuance).

The way you get an ETC is by applying existing ticket value to a ticket that costs less.
I'm considering the scenario where a non-refundable ticket is changed to a refundable fare. I think you can then cancel the refundable fare, and the "refund to original payment" would mean an ETC for the part paid by the non-refundable ticket's coupon (and the extra money actually back to you). This is less advantageous than simply changing the original ticket to something you do, in fact, want to fly.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 10:52 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
You wind up with another ticket which can be applied to a new itinerary subject to payment of applicable change fee. This can go on forever (until the ticket expires, one year from original issuance).

The way you get an ETC is by applying existing ticket value to a ticket that costs less.
Right. The difference, of course, being that an ETC can be used to purchase a ticket for anyone, whereas the ticket you get in this case can only be used for travel by the original passenger.

There's a thread on the board regarding low-cost itineraries that can be purchased when attempting to throw away part of the value in order to get an ETC for the remainder. LAX-LAS is often a good one to use. However, this assumes that OP has some use for a United ETC.

BTW, OP: Welcome to FlyerTalk.

One other suggestion -- don't be in any hurry to cancel the reservation. UA is notorious for having schedule changes. Six months out, there's a pretty decent chance that one of your flights will change its schedule. If the flight time changes by two hours or more, you're eligible for a refund automatically (smaller changes will depend upon your negotiating skill. .
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Old Jan 25, 18, 11:09 am
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Be careful. The fare rules quoted by OP contain the standard UA provision which essentially makes the entire new ticket non-refundable. In addition a penalty will apply. While OP has not listed the full fare rules, that penalty would typically be $400-600 from the UK.

This question gets asked all the time. The answer is pretty much the same. You cannot turn non-refundable funds into refundable funds by upfaring and cancelling.

THE MOST RESTRICTIVE CANCELLATION PENALTY
RULE APPLIES TO THE ENTIRE PRICING UNIT
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Old Jan 25, 18, 12:16 pm
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
I'm considering the scenario where a non-refundable ticket is changed to a refundable fare. I think you can then cancel the refundable fare, and the "refund to original payment" would mean an ETC for the part paid by the non-refundable ticket's coupon (and the extra money actually back to you). This is less advantageous than simply changing the original ticket to something you do, in fact, want to fly.
You mean if you pay-up to the refundable fare so some portion of the ticket is refundable? That sounds plausible, I've never tried it.

I do currently have a HKG-SFO ticket which is in its fourth iteration. Interestingly, when I changed it from US originating RT to HKG originating OW, the change fee dropped from $300 US to $2000 HKD which I don't think technically should happen.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 1:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
You mean if you pay-up to the refundable fare so some portion of the ticket is refundable? That sounds plausible, I've never tried it.

I do currently have a HKG-SFO ticket which is in its fourth iteration. Interestingly, when I changed it from US originating RT to HKG originating OW, the change fee dropped from $300 US to $2000 HKD which I don't think technically should happen.
Yes, which was I think OP's original question. I believe once the coupon is exchanged, only the new fare rules matter. Technically speaking, the new ticket is fully "refundable" - it's just that some portion of the funds used to purchase it were based on the exchange of a non-refundable coupon, so I assume that SHARES marks it as a United-restricted form of payment (i.e. ETC).

I think that also makes sense with regard to your change fee - once you pay a change fee and reissue the ticket, only your new fare rules apply, which in that case would become HKD 2,000.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 1:28 pm
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If you don't have an immediate need for the residual ticket value, since the flight isn't until July 2018, wait and see if something happens that would result in a travel waiver -- e.g., severe weather -- or a re-confirmation, like a significant schedule change. Then the flight can be changed or often cancelled for free.
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Last edited by cepheid; Jan 25, 18 at 7:34 pm Reason: Added schedule change for clarification
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Old Jan 25, 18, 1:44 pm
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For future reference, try booking a refundable fare first, then check it to a non-refundable after it gets ticketed. it may hold the original refundable fare rules.
Like others will say, look to find a travel waiver or a schedule change, then immediately request a refund.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 1:55 pm
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Originally Posted by justsawaufo View Post
For future reference, try booking a refundable fare first, then check it to a non-refundable after it gets ticketed. it may hold the original refundable fare rules.
It won't. As soon as you change to a non-refundable fare, it becomes non-refundable.

The people who write the airline fare rules are well aware that people will try to evade them. They're written to make that difficult / impossible. If it were as easy as making a simple change, everyone would just do that whenever they needed a refund, and the whole concept of refundable vs. non-refundable fares would go away.
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Old Jan 25, 18, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by cepheid View Post
If you don't have an immediate need for the residual ticket value, since the flight isn't until July 2018, wait and see if something happens that would result in a travel waiver -- e.g., severe weather. Then the flight can be changed or often cancelled for free.
@OP I'm flagging this post for you. Since the change fee occurs whenever you actually change it (and just needs to be executed before travel), follow this advice. Maybe not as last minute as weather, but if they change your departure or arrival times by a certain amount (I am unsure the UA rules, on DL it was 60 minutes) then you can call and say the new time doesn't work and you want a refund.
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Old Jan 26, 18, 12:25 am
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
I'm considering the scenario where a non-refundable ticket is changed to a refundable fare. I think you can then cancel the refundable fare, and the "refund to original payment" would mean an ETC for the part paid by the non-refundable ticket's coupon (and the extra money actually back to you). This is less advantageous than simply changing the original ticket to something you do, in fact, want to fly.
Wow. Interesting strategy. So OP could buy a more expensive ticket, pay the change fee, and get the entire orig value back as an ETC? That's actually better than the standard LAX-LAS method, in which one pays the change fee + dummy fare.

OP: You want to wait for a sked chg as others have mentioned. But if you do have to cancel and extract funds, it's best wait until the last minute since the ETC will have a fresh expiration date. Of course, the best solution is to have a UA operated itin lined up!
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