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Understanding/Using UA Electronic Travel Certificate(ETC) & Future Flight Credit(FFC)

Old Apr 9, 2020, 2:37 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: WineCountryUA
***************************************
The ability to extend FFCs and ETCs is a dynmaic situation and what work in the past is not working now
See the thread for most recent reports. Some paths do appear to exist but things are changing frequently.
**************************************


* In mid-2021, UA started a process that unify ETCs/FFCs and expand their usability, jointly they are called "travel credits"
* There are still a few differences - transferability and expiration are different
* Conversion of FFCs to ETCs are no longer an option
* See this UA announcement (27 Sept 2021) for some insight

FFC -- Future flight Credit issued when you voluntarily cancel or change a non-refundable flight
ETC -- A credit issued generally for a service related issue, broken seat, a significant delayed flight due to UA issues, ....
Refunds due to significant schedule changes or cancellations are different, see Schedule Change(Back to 2hrs)/Cancelation Refund,New DOT ruling,UA processing refunds

United travel credits
We have two types of travel credits, and both can easily be used to shop for flights and amenities on our website or app. Get to know future flight credits and travel certificates.

How do I redeem my travel credits?
Shop for your flight as you normally would. Once you get to checkout, all unused travel credits that are connected to your MileagePlus account will automatically appear once you select Travel Credits as a payment option. All you have to do is select the checkbox next to the credit and it will automatically be applied to your reservation.

If you dont see one of your travel credits listed, or dont have a MileagePlus account, you can also look up your credit directly from checkout and apply it to your cart.
Can anyone use my credits?
Who can actually use a travel credit varies based on credit type.

Future flight credits
Normally, a future flight credit is non-transferrable and therefore must be used by the same traveler it was issued to. However, all future flight credits that were issued for tickets purchased on or before August 31, 2021, can now be used to book travel for anyone, including yourself, friends, or family. If you have trouble using a future flight credit, please contact Reservations at 1-800-864-8331.
Travel certificates
These credits can be used by anyone.
What can I use my travel credits?
  1. All travel credits can be used to buy tickets on United, United Express and partner-operated flights. You can also apply travel credits toward non-ticket items, like Economy Plus seating, Basic Economy seat assignments and preferred seating. (and pre-paid checked bags? never implemented)

To use travel credits with PlusPoints, youll need to book your ticket using your travel credit and then request a PlusPoints upgrade.
Do travel credits expire?
All travel credits do expire, but the expirations work differently for the two types of credits.

Future flight credits
Future flight credits have a travel by date as their expiration. This means the itinerary you apply a future flight credit toward must begin travel before the expiration date. In most cases, this date is one year after your original ticket was issued.

Please note, future flight credits issued on or before December 31, 2022, have had their travel by date extended to December 31, 2023.

Travel certificates
Travel certificates have a book by date as their expiration. Meaning, you must book your flight using this credit before the expiration date. In most cases, these credits expire up to one year after the date they were issued.

Please note, travel certificates set to expire on or before December 31, 2022, or issued before December 31, 2022, have had their book by date extended to December 31, 2023.
Where do I find my travel credit info?
MileagePlus members can find a summary of their travel credits in their account. If you arent a member or cant find your credit in your account, you can also use the lookup forms provided on this page to find your travel credit information, including the value and expiration date.
Can I use multiple credit info?
Yes, you can use multiple credits of the same type in a single purchase. Future flight credits and travel certificates cannot be combined. {Although in Sept 2021 UA hinted this was coming}
What if I have a travel credit issues for a flight originally booked through a travel agent?
You can still use your credit, but youll need to do it through the travel agency you used to book the original flight.
(ETC) Terms and conditions
Certificate terms and conditions
  1. Travel certificates are redeemable toward transportation on any flight operated by United Airlines, Inc., United Express, and partner airlines sold on United digital channels.
  2. You may redeem or view travel certificate details at united.com by clicking on Deals & Offers, Promotional certificates, and entering the promotion code and PIN in the offer code box. You can also call United at 800-UNITED-1 (800-864-8331). A fee may apply for redemption via telephone. You will be asked to enter the last name of the certificate recipient. Certificates may not be redeemed through a travel agency.
  3. The promotion code and PIN must be presented at time of ticket purchase and expire 24 months from original date of issue, unless otherwise noted.
  4. Travel certificates have no cash value.
  5. Travel certificates will not be honored in conjunction with prepaid tickets, fee-waived tickets, MileagePlus awards, tour packages or other service charges. You must pay for outstanding fees and ancillary purchases with a credit or debit card at time of purchase.
  6. If the face amount of a travel certificate exceeds the cost of the ticket for which it is surrendered, any residual amount will be applied to the same PIN for use toward another ticket until either the original issued amount is depleted, or the expiration date has been reached, whichever comes first.
  7. Travel certificates are not transferable and may not be sold, traded or bartered. However, the original recipient of a certificate may arrange travel for another person if done without selling or bartering the certificate. Any sale or barter of a certificate, or any offer to sell or enter into such a transaction, shall render a certificate null and void such that the certificate shall no longer be redeemable by any person, including the original recipient.
  8. Positive identification may be required when using a certificate toward the purchase of a ticket. United is not liable for loss, theft or unintended use of a certificate by a person other than the original recipient.
  9. United's Contract of Carriage applies to all travel on United Airlines and United Express.
Can I convert a FFC to ETC? Can I get an ETC instead of FFC?
You can not longer do either.
Occasionally, if there is an problem using your FFC, the agent will convert it to an ETC for immediate use. These are rare and at the agent;s discretion. Calling to ask converting an FFC to ETC for use by another traveler will likely not work -as the FFC was never intended for transfer
What if I only use part of the credit, what happens to the rest?
For both FFCs/ETCs the remainder of the credit is available for future use
But these credits must be fully used before the use of a credit card payment
Can FFCs or ETCs be used to pay award fees?
No
What happens if I cancel a ticket purchased with FFC or ETC in 24 hours?
Payment goes back to original form of payment, Note this can take some time -- a week or more, especially for the ETC.
What happens if I cancel a ticket purchased with FFC or ETC after 24 hours?
This becomes a new FFC (including the ETC value). This generally happens immediately.
ETC
ETCs can be used for internet access, E+, subscriptions, upgrades, bag fees

Comparison of TB, ETCs, & FFCs
  • They all have different pluses and minuses
  • TB can only be used on an all UA operated itin but can be used to book anyone. Deposited TB funds have up to 5 year expiration (special promos are funds are much shorter) and need to be used for a booking before expiration but travel can be later (up to 11 months)
  • ETCs can be used for any itin bookable by United and can be used by any traveler, Trips funded by ETC need to be booked by expiration but travel can be later (up to 11 months)
  • FFCs can be use for any itin bookable by United but can only be used by the named traveler, Trips funded by ETC need to be started before expiration
  • Only one of these can be used in a single booking, but multiple ETCs or Multiple FFCs can be used for a single booking
  • TB and ETCs can be converted to FFCs. FFCs can not (in general) be converted to ETCs (but occasionally will be if a legitimate FFCs usage fails).
  • FFCs or ETCs can not be deposited in TB.
Not working as-of April 2024.
Further changes in May 2024. See thread
However, you can follow the below to book a flight, then change it to a different flight after the expiration date.
Originally Posted by wiki
If you want to extend an FFC, the most reliable process is:

Purchasie a new non-refundable (non-BE) itin, for same passengers as the FFC. Do not use change of flight, start a new booking without using the FFC.
When you get to the payment page, then use the FFC as a form of payment
Wait a bit over 24 hours and then cancel.
You then will receive, essentially instantaneous, a new FFC with an expiration 1 year from the booking date.
The new FFC must be used for a trip starting before the new expiration
Deviations may not be successful
This will not work for FFC from a partial flown trip.

This works for extending ETC also except the ETC with be converted to a FFC and locked to the named passenger.

There is no guarantee this process will work in the future


Other useful threads
Extending a Credit/Travel/ETC Voucher by booking a refundable fare?

Now See All Your Electronic Travel Credit(s) (ETCs) on Your United.com Account!
Future Flight Credits (FFC) Available on My Trips page?
Issues with UA's online rebooking: Missing flights, higher prices, changed cabin, ..
Is UA enforcing No Residual Value restriction found in some fare rules?

UA Electronic Travel Certificates (ETC): General Q&A, ... now 2 year life ...Closed
UA Electronic Travel Certificate & Codeshares/partner flights ...Closed
How to get residual value ("future flight credit") from non-refundable flight ...Closed

Archive:
Understanding/Using UA Electronic Travel Certificate & Future Flight Credit {Archive}
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Understanding/Using UA Electronic Travel Certificate(ETC) & Future Flight Credit(FFC)

Old May 10, 2023, 7:04 pm
  #166  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: NYC
Posts: 6,457
Originally Posted by jmastron
I'd raised this before, reading it as you did and was corrected by someone who had an actual cancellation to check. This is very misleadingly worded. The only way I can read "travel credits expire one year after the date they were issued" is "they" meaning the "travel credits", and travel credits clearly get issued when you do the cancellation; nobody refers to booking a ticket as the start of "travel credits". If they mean "expire one year after the date the original ticket was issued" (and that appears to be how it works), they should say it that way. I wonder if there's any way to get them to fix the wording (other than maybe a DOT complaint after trying to rebook a ticket in good faith based on it, which might get someone's attention). Yes, that's how expirations traditionally worked, but many people don't know that, COVID waivers showed they *can* have longer expirations, and the new concept of using the travel credit as payment obscures the original ticket a bit more.

I doubt they mean to scam customers, but it is false advertising the way it is IMO. The one year from original ticket purchase can be a lot less valuable than "no change fees!" implies -- imagine having to cancel a family December trip that you bought in February, and now finding out they are only good for less than 2 months, before the next school break. Something to think about before purchasing tickets too early.

Having said that, it sounds like there are currently workarounds like booking another ticket and canceling *after* the 24+ hour period refund-to-original-payment, so that it creates a new FFC with that new booking date.
Exactly, There really isn't any other way to read "travel credits expire one year after the date they were issued". If you are familiar with industry practice, you would want to confirm (hence my post), but I doubt any native speaker of English who isn't a frequent flyer would interpret the words in any other way. This is especially the case since, as you note, there are ways to phrase the provision so that the policy is clear, such as "travel credits expire one year after the date the original tickets were purchased".
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Old May 10, 2023, 7:30 pm
  #167  
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Originally Posted by richarddd
That's what I would have thought and what other airlines do. I asked because that didn't seem to be what the words said. It seems the date when issued really means the date the original ticket was issued, not when the FFC was issued..

Thanks.
That's what it does mean and what the poster said, yes.
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Old May 10, 2023, 10:18 pm
  #168  
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Programs: United MileagePlus
Posts: 338
Originally Posted by Anthonyy7
I had a travel credit expiring 12/31/23 and today someone via twitter converted it to a certificate with the same exp date because they said it'll make it easier for me to use it toward bag fees. It now says book by vs travel by which is good for me right? However it doesn't come up associated with my account but I am able to pull it up using the PIN but I don't see how to apply it to a booking. I go through the booking process, click travel credit, search and find it. However nothing happens. Am I doing something wrong or should I call in for this?
it should be selectable as payment. Maybe try typical troubleshooting by using a new browser or the app, etc.
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Old May 15, 2023, 6:41 am
  #169  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: New York NY
Programs: UA Gold, CO Plat, CO Million Miler
Posts: 2,624
So help me out here...I'm an old hand with a lot of this stuff going back to CO, but new to using FCC's, As I read some of the above, it looks like I can extend the expiration date of FCCs by booking and cancelling a new flight. So, I'd appreciate it if someone would confirm and answer following:

1. My wife and I each have a couple or FCCs expiring March 2024. We'd like to use them for a flight is May 2024....So, I should wait until sometime after May 2023, ..then make a reservation for any date prior to FCC expiration of March 2024...then cancel. and we'll receive new FCCs with an expiration a year from the date of the new booking, Is that correct?

2. What's the magic about the 48 hour cancellation days? Is it actually any date after 24 hours?

3. I also have an expiring FCC for a granddaughter with an FCC also expiring in March 2024....We were going to take her on a special trip that we cancelled due to me breaking an ankle...It's very unlikely that she'll be able to use it in the next couple of years...Is there any possibility with a call that they might switch it to me?

Thanks
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Old May 15, 2023, 10:19 am
  #170  
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 45
Originally Posted by jcturnbull
it should be selectable as payment. Maybe try typical troubleshooting by using a new browser or the app, etc.
Thanks, for whatever reason it wasn't applying any funds on any PC or app during the payment process. A customer service agent via chat was able to book my flight for me waiving the booking fee.
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Old May 15, 2023, 12:42 pm
  #171  
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Originally Posted by richarddd
Is my understanding correct that if I cancel a UA flight I've booked for cash (other than basic economy) I can get a travel credit I can use for future travel booked through UA?

The website FAQ includes "In most cases, travel credits expire one year after the date they were issued. The expiration date will be listed on the credit itself. What that date means for you differs based on what type of credit you have." Does this mean if I book a flight on May 10 then cancel on August 10, I'd get a travel credit on August 10 that I can use until August 10, 2024 for a flight beginning no later than that date (with the return being whatever later date is part of the reservation)?
I think the crux of the issue here is the specific type of item you are getting.

In UA lingo, travel credit generally refers to an ETC, which is a document that is usually given as comp - in-flight issues, overbooking comp, etc. For a few months, mostly at the start of the pandemic, these were an option to get if you canceled a flight, but otherwise, not given out when you canceled. After this period, some agents were converting FFCs to ETCs on request, but not general practice anymore. ETCs are valid for a year from date of issue.

If you cancel a booked flight, that is not basic economy, and later than 24 hours after purchase, you get an FFC, and UA doesnt refer to these as travel credits, even though some here seem to use both interchangeably. FFCs are valid for travel starting a year after date of original ticket issue. So if you buy a ticket today for Oct. 2023, then cancel it, even if the day before you are supposed to fly, that FFC will be valid for a new trip starting before May 15, 2024. Other differences are who can use it - FFCs can only be used for pax on the original ticket, while ETCs can be used for any passenger. ETCs used to only be valid for UA/UAX flights, but I believe they can now be used for partners (so many changes over the last 3 years, its hard to remember).


Originally Posted by richarddd
That's what I would have thought and what other airlines do. I asked because that didn't seem to be what the words said. It seems the date when issued really means the date the original ticket was issued, not when the FFC was issued..

Thanks.
again, difference between travel credits, aka ETC, and FFC. FFC are just the shell of the PNR, with flights removed and payment attached. Validity is always based on original issue date of that PNR. To extend, you can book a new flight, using the old PNR as a method of payment (as opposed to using change flights tool to add flights to the empty PNR).

Originally Posted by hughw
So help me out here...I'm an old hand with a lot of this stuff going back to CO, but new to using FCC's, As I read some of the above, it looks like I can extend the expiration date of FCCs by booking and cancelling a new flight. So, I'd appreciate it if someone would confirm and answer following:

1. My wife and I each have a couple or FCCs expiring March 2024. We'd like to use them for a flight is May 2024....So, I should wait until sometime after May 2023, ..then make a reservation for any date prior to FCC expiration of March 2024...then cancel. and we'll receive new FCCs with an expiration a year from the date of the new booking, Is that correct?

2. What's the magic about the 48 hour cancellation days? Is it actually any date after 24 hours?

3. I also have an expiring FCC for a granddaughter with an FCC also expiring in March 2024....We were going to take her on a special trip that we cancelled due to me breaking an ankle...It's very unlikely that she'll be able to use it in the next couple of years...Is there any possibility with a call that they might switch it to me?

Thanks
1. Yes, presuming you follow some very important advice on how you use it. You must start a new reservation and book it, choosing to pay with United payment method (or something like that) and applying the funds in the old PNR. If you change flights by going into the old PNR and adding flights to it, then the same expiration would apply. In the past, that was the only way to use the credit, but since COVID, the better option is to use as a form of payment to a new PNR.

2. Magic time is 24 hours after you book. That is when United will not refund the booking, but instead give you a FFC. Id guess if anyone used 48 hours, its probably because some have reported refunds issuing at some point slightly later than 24 hours (not me, though), so waiting a bit longer should ensure that wont happen.

3. Probably not, but the worst they can say is no. While rare again, some have had luck in getting those switched to an ETC, so you can ask about that. Expect no, be happy with something better. The alternative option is to keep extending for a year, by booking, then canceling. Other option is to book a flight as far away as possible, like in April 2024. There are likely to be schedule changes, and maybe one that is large enough (2+ hours, or one that goes below a minimum connection time) where they will refund. You can always do the latter, and if the schedule change doesnt happen, you can cancel and extend.
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Old May 15, 2023, 6:22 pm
  #172  
 
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Thanks emcampbe. Very clear advice....Now my business flying days are over, most of my flights are on award miles generated by CC's and I haven't had to cancel any paid flights....so very few FCC's until recently.
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Old May 16, 2023, 6:42 pm
  #173  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: CLE, DCA, and 30k feet
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TLDR: TA-booked FFC for 100% UA op domestic to UA+partner INTL?

Ok... don't see this addressed in the Wiki or in the posts I've sampled over the 46 pages: Had a trip for a client that insists on using their TA to book all travel get canceled earlier this year (this was CLE-SJC, IIRC) and is sitting in my UA account labeled "Business Travel" (odd since none of my other FFCs/residuals are labeled this way but anyway...).

Now the client wants me in an undisclosed South African (but not South Africa) location later this year -- it isn't possible to get within 1000 miles of the destination on UA metal so a partner (likely suspects are SA through JNB, ET through ADD, or EK through DXB) will be required.

This isn't actually my problem to solve since the same TA will be booking the new ticket but can the FFC be applied if partner/interline flights are on the reservation? I seem to recall in the past only UA metal was permitted (or maybe that was only ETCs) but that that changed (temporarily or permanently?) due to COVID... so I'm foggy on if it can be used for the new itinerary (and therefore how much "encouragement value" I can use to get TA to book me on UA?
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Old May 16, 2023, 7:19 pm
  #174  
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc
TLDR: TA-booked FFC for 100% UA op domestic to UA+partner INTL?
For FFC, this shouldnt be an issue.
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Old May 20, 2023, 6:36 am
  #175  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Originally Posted by jmastron
If I understand your question as "Can I book a new trip for my kids and I on one new PNR, and apply the FFCs that each person has available to their respective tickets within that new PNR", the answer is Yes. When you get to the payment screen there should be a list of credits available for each person, and you can apply them to each.

One timing gotcha to be aware of -- if you use the credits on a new trip, and cancel within 24 hours (meaning everything gets refunded to original form of payment), those credits do NOT appear right away -- it takes 2-3 days (or more) for the credits to appear. There may be some manual processing to separate "original form of payment" into the new cash/card payments and the original credits (which go back with their original expiration date in that case). I did that once to get a lower fare the next day, and ended up not using the credit for that trip (was able to use ot for a later trip to Hawaii, so it ended well!).
Related question - I want to book a new trip for myself and my kid on one PNR. I just cancelled a trip this morning which has enough value in FFC to cover my ticket on the new itinerary. When I get to the payment screen it says "We're not able to apply this credit here. Follow these steps to restart your booking and use this credit." If I restart the booking using this link to my FFC I can only search for myself as a passenger. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
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Old May 20, 2023, 11:16 am
  #176  
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Originally Posted by YYCCL3
Related question - I want to book a new trip for myself and my kid on one PNR. I just cancelled a trip this morning which has enough value in FFC to cover my ticket on the new itinerary. When I get to the payment screen it says "We're not able to apply this credit here. Follow these steps to restart your booking and use this credit." If I restart the booking using this link to my FFC I can only search for myself as a passenger. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
Just call and let the agent fix it.
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Old May 21, 2023, 7:14 pm
  #177  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Just call and let the agent fix it.
Just wanted to circle back on this for a data point.

I called in and reservations had trouble with it too. They suggested it could have been giving me issues because the only flights on the original ticket were codeshares operated by a partner airline and that the system wasn't happy with that. They tried to reissue the FFC as an ETC so I could use it online for a booking with more than just me but it wouldn't let them.

I ended up booking a solo ticket online for myself with the FFC, and calling back to have a second ticket booked for my daughter and linked to my booking (she's a minor and I couldn't get the flights I wanted on the website as there was a connection involved).
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Old May 21, 2023, 7:21 pm
  #178  
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Originally Posted by YYCCL3
....
I called in and reservations had trouble with it too. They suggested it could have been giving me issues because the only flights on the original ticket were codeshares operated by a partner airline and that the system wasn't happy with that. They tried to reissue the FFC as an ETC so I could use it online for a booking with more than just me but it wouldn't let them. ...
yes, occasionally the FFCs can be temperamental

Originally Posted by YYCCL3
....I ended up booking a solo ticket online for myself with the FFC, and calling back to have a second ticket booked for my daughter and linked to my booking (she's a minor and I couldn't get the flights I wanted on the website as there was a connection involved).
The linking is generally meaningless but the agents can put a code on your daughter's ticket to ignore the UCM issues, noting you be traveling also.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 21, 2023 at 7:35 pm Reason: fixed quote
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Old May 29, 2023, 12:33 pm
  #179  
 
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
yes, occasionally the FFCs can be temperamental

The linking is generally meaningless but the agents can put a code on your daughter's ticket to ignore the UCM issues, noting you be traveling also.
May I ask what is UCM?
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Old May 29, 2023, 12:37 pm
  #180  
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Originally Posted by PanAmWT
May I ask what is UCM?
Why I don't know (no vowels?) but
UA unaccompanied minor (UCM) policy - nonstop only, age (now 14 & lower), same cabin
UM is also used by some
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