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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

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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 Mar 30, 2024, 6:42 pm
  #811  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1,500
Originally Posted by etyne
What finally worked:
  1. I booked a united premium economy flight, fully refundable, that only used up a subset of my travel certificate. I got a receipt for the base fare, plus the two upgrades, one for each direcition
  2. I cancelled pretty quickly ~30 min (after i got the confirmation)
  3. I got three travel certificates back, one for base fare, one for each of the upgrades to economy premium. They are all slated for 1 year out. woohoo!
Welcome to FlyerTalk and thanks for posting this.
I can confirm booking a fully refundable ticket (cents under the value of my ETC, such that it isn't used up fully) and then immediately cancelling it, has resulted in the issue of a new ETC (not FFC) with a year's expiry!
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Old Mar 30, 2024, 9:38 pm
  #812  
 
Join Date: Mar 2024
Posts: 2
Originally Posted by etyne
I read this form and tried many things, so wanted to share what finally worked for me.

Context: I have an ETC from a cancelled trip from early 2020. It was extended and extended and was set to expire March 31, 2024. eek.

What finally worked:
  1. I booked a united premium economy flight, fully refundable, that only used up a subset of my travel certificate. I got a receipt for the base fare, plus the two upgrades, one for each direcition
  2. I cancelled pretty quickly ~30 min (after i got the confirmation)
  3. I got three travel certificates back, one for base fare, one for each of the upgrades to economy premium. They are all slated for 1 year out. woohoo!
I am currently trying to use two travel certificates together to book a new flight, then cancel that in the hopes of getting the remainder of my original ETC also bumped in expiration date.

what didn't work...
  1. calling united on the phone. they just told me to fill out a form on /customercare and it would probably be approved
  2. I emailed customer care twice, the first time they said they couldn't extend it, but if i wait until it expires, they might be able to extend it . the second they just flat out said no.
  3. I tried booking first/business class flights that were slightly over the amount, cancelling within 24 hours, and cancelling outside of 24 hours (~26 hours), but both resulted in the same expiration date on my travel certificates.
I wish everyone good luck for extending these, if you're in the same boat as me!
Thanks for sharing! Do you know if there is a way to book flights using some of your ETC and credit card? I have $750 in ETC, but my flight is only $500, so I'm unable to use my United Quest card for purchase and flight credits.

Also, does anyone know how long funds in TravelBank last before expiring, e.g., 5 years? I have ~1k in TravelBank thanks to Aspire and Platinum, but Im not sure how to use them for best value. Any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated!
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Old Mar 31, 2024, 3:33 pm
  #813  
 
Join Date: Mar 2024
Posts: 1
Originally Posted by Virazuno
Welcome to FlyerTalk and thanks for posting this.
I can confirm booking a fully refundable ticket (cents under the value of my ETC, such that it isn't used up fully) and then immediately cancelling it, has resulted in the issue of a new ETC (not FFC) with a year's expiry!
Adding an additional DP here - can also confirm this worked for me! Had a $455 ETC expiring today 3/31 and booked a $450 fully-refundable Economy ticket. Immediately cancelled, and received a new $450 ETC with 3/31/25 expiry. Thanks for the help everyone!!
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Old Apr 1, 2024, 12:28 pm
  #814  
 
Join Date: Jan 2024
Location: Global
Programs: Self-funded; Marriott Bonvoy Titanium; LT Gold, World of Hyatt Globalist, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 49
I' learned my lesson and will screenshot it. Fortunately UA extended my partially used ticket for an additional year as an exception. It was a lot of back and forth and UA realized their agents were not giving me correct information.

Always keep the claim number saved. Even though mine generated numbers, their system did not actually save them. Apparently certain browsers cause this glitch.
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Last edited by InFlightJay; Apr 15, 2024 at 10:32 am
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Old Apr 2, 2024, 6:23 am
  #815  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: NYC
Programs: AA 2MM, Bonvoy LTT, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 14,732
Originally Posted by hurnik
Hmm, not sure if this is still working, or UA's system takes longer to update.
I had an FFC that was expiring in Sept. of this year.
Used it to book a First Class (not refundable ticket) 10 days ago.
Cancelled that ticket today. Issued me an FFC that says (both in the email) AND in my United Wallet -> Travel Credits as:
Begin Travel by March 7, 2025.

OK, go to book the new itinerary. One way, ALB-PVR on 12/7/24 (which I'm pretty sure is before 5/7/25).
I've tried First and First Refundable (since the FFC is $660.81)

When I get to the checkout screen, it shows my FFC with the original Sept, 2024 expiration and won't let me use it.

Even if I go to the Wallet -> Travel Credits, click on the ONLY credit, and then click on the "book with credit" link, it still won't let me use it.

Does one need to wait more than 24 hours after cancelling for the new credit window to update across UA's system?
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Odd, give it a day and then call if still having issues. Occasionally FFCs get messed up and unusable. If necessary the phone agent can get supervisor approval to convert to ETC.
Im seeing the same thing. Cancelled more than 24 hours later (30 hours). The new FFC (plus the new money added) keeps original expiration date. Its no longer extended.

Had a FFC expiring in July. Booked it 10 days ago for April (new itinerary more expensive than FFC). Waited two days and cancelled. FFC kept original expiration including the new money added.

Just tried again this past Saturday and cancelled this morning. Same thing. FFC expiration date no longer being extended.
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Old Apr 2, 2024, 3:01 pm
  #816  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New York, NY
Programs: Independent
Posts: 470
Originally Posted by seawolf
I’m seeing the same thing. Cancelled more than 24 hours later (30 hours). The new FFC (plus the new money added) keeps original expiration date. It’s no longer extended.

Had a FFC expiring in July. Booked it 10 days ago for April (new itinerary more expensive than FFC). Waited two days and cancelled. FFC kept original expiration including the new money added.

Just tried again this past Saturday and cancelled this morning. Same thing. FFC expiration date no longer being extended.
I had the same issue today! 😭

Loophole closed.

What did work: book a flight for sooner, then change the date. I ended up losing my "break from business" pricing, but given the $650 I had in travel credits (which I was OK with because I assumed I could extend them), that's totally fine by me!

That said... I wouldn't rely on any of these loopholes surviving for long. To be honest I'm grateful they let it survive this long, but I totally understand them closing it. We've all gotten used to so much flexibility, and often the refundable fares are reasonable enough that I will probably be paying the premium for many future flights.
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Last edited by hkcj; Apr 2, 2024 at 3:10 pm
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Old Apr 3, 2024, 10:54 am
  #817  
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: SFO
Programs: AS MVP Gold 100k, UA Silver, AC P25k, Marriott Titanium, Hilton Gold, IHG Platinum
Posts: 945
I had the same issue; however, when i cancel the booking. The filight credit showed 04/01/2025 expiration, but when trying to book it shows 09/04/2024 expiration. Ugh....can we at least be clear about the expiration date of the travel credit? Frankly, if WN is allowing trip credits to not expire....UA should just allow this too.

any tips on this?
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Old Apr 3, 2024, 1:35 pm
  #818  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New York, NY
Programs: Independent
Posts: 470
Originally Posted by isaacchambers
I had the same issue; however, when i cancel the booking. The filight credit showed 04/01/2025 expiration, but when trying to book it shows 09/04/2024 expiration. Ugh....can we at least be clear about the expiration date of the travel credit? Frankly, if WN is allowing trip credits to not expire....UA should just allow this too.

any tips on this?
Book a flight before expiration, then change to the flight you actually want. That worked for me. I plan to cancel it later to see if it creates a new travel credit with an extended date as well.
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Old Apr 3, 2024, 5:48 pm
  #819  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New York, NY
Programs: Independent
Posts: 470
Well... new update! I booked a flight with a certificate expiring for me in November 24, and with certificates for others expiring April 25. When I booked and changed (successfully getting a flight in March '25), then cancelled, *all* of the certificates were expiring in November 2024. TBH I'm just going to call them and get them to sort out the mess - that's just punitive.

So, anyway - there is no loophole I know of to extending the certificate, though there is a loophole to booking out past the date they expire.

Update: One way to make this easier if your desired flight is more expensive than your FFC is to book a much more expensive flight, then immediately change it to the desired flight past the expiration date. When I did that I got a refund of the difference back to my card. So I used the whole ETC and didn't have to search for a flight that was between my FFC and desired flight costs (in my case only ~$20, so an annoying range).

I really hope I don't have to change these flights between Nov and Feb because of the punitive earlier expiration date on all the tickets now!

Last edited by hkcj; Apr 3, 2024 at 7:13 pm
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Old Apr 3, 2024, 8:38 pm
  #820  
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: SFO
Programs: AS MVP Gold 100k, UA Silver, AC P25k, Marriott Titanium, Hilton Gold, IHG Platinum
Posts: 945
Originally Posted by hkcj
Book a flight before expiration, then change to the flight you actually want. That worked for me. I plan to cancel it later to see if it creates a new travel credit with an extended date as well.
Please give me an update on it.
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Old Apr 4, 2024, 5:51 am
  #821  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New York, NY
Programs: Independent
Posts: 470
Originally Posted by isaacchambers
Please give me an update on it.
I have the update one post up. The expiration date was the earliest expiration date of all the travel certificates used. (E.g. for some passengers they had April 2025 expiry dates, I had November 204 - after canceling, everyone was November 2024.) Fortunately I do plan to take this trip, but if the price drops significantly before November I may cancel and try to call to have them fix the issue. I will say that in my wallet they all said April 2025 - only at checkout did they say Nov 2024.

I personally think it's intentional, if ham-handed. (Though I hope not.) A family member had done the extension trick last November, and they had to call to book this week. The "correct" solution IMO is something more like jetblue TravelBank where the expiration of every single dollar is tracked.

I suppose that it might be lower risk to cancel now and call to get the agent to fix it.

I am trying one more thing: book with money and FFC, then cancel within 24 hours. That requires a billing agent, which in the past sometimes gave interesting results (like combined FFCs even when I booked with multiple).
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Last edited by hkcj; Apr 4, 2024 at 5:57 am
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Old Apr 4, 2024, 9:08 am
  #822  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NYC
Programs: Hilton Diamond, SPG Gold Elite, Marriott Gold Elite, Hyatt Discoverist, Best Western Diamond Select
Posts: 198
I have one that's "Travel before" 5/6/24. I have no travel plans or even time to travel by then. My original flight was booked through Chase Travel, not United. I still can't figure out how to get it extended, and the idea of losing $800+ doesn't thrill me. I've been trying to find someone else in the same boat who was able to use the FFC with a third party, cancel, and get the date pushed out that way.
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Old Apr 4, 2024, 12:31 pm
  #823  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA LT Plat 2MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Plat
Posts: 67,324
Originally Posted by Freckles68
... My original flight was booked through Chase Travel, not United. I still can't figure out how to get it extended, and the idea of losing $800+ doesn't thrill me. .....
You need to deal with your TA. that is the downside of TA in this situation. You can call UA and ask UA to take over the ticket (for a fee) but this is not always an option. Discounted Non-refundable tickets have always had this issue. Consider refundable tickets if travel is uncertain, they are not that expensive. I have started book early with refundable ticket if there is the slightness chance of no travel and in the end they almost always are cheaper than non-refundable tickets booked when things are more certain.
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Old Apr 4, 2024, 12:38 pm
  #824  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NYC
Programs: Hilton Diamond, SPG Gold Elite, Marriott Gold Elite, Hyatt Discoverist, Best Western Diamond Select
Posts: 198
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
You need to deal with your TA. that is the downside of TA in this situation. You can call UA and ask UA to take over the ticket (for a fee) but this is not always an option. Discounted Non-refundable tickets have always had this issue. Consider refundable tickets if travel is uncertain, they are not that expensive. I have started book early with refundable ticket if there is the slightness chance of no travel and in the end they almost always are cheaper than non-refundable tickets booked when things are more certain.
Yeah, I booked with points because it was cheaper that way. So the FFC was issued, but it can only be used through Chase Travel. I was just wondering if the book/cancel/new expiration date loophole (which now seems to be closed at UA, at least) has worked for anyone with a third-party FFC. My travel was about as set-in-stone as it getsI was moving abroadbut life packed a real wallop and things changed
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Old Apr 4, 2024, 8:56 pm
  #825  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 15
Originally Posted by etyne
I read this form and tried many things, so wanted to share what finally worked for me.

Context: I have an ETC from a cancelled trip from early 2020. It was extended and extended and was set to expire March 31, 2024. eek.

What finally worked:
  1. I booked a united premium economy flight, fully refundable, that only used up a subset of my travel certificate. I got a receipt for the base fare, plus the two upgrades, one for each direcition
  2. I cancelled pretty quickly ~30 min (after i got the confirmation)
  3. I got three travel certificates back, one for base fare, one for each of the upgrades to economy premium. They are all slated for 1 year out. woohoo!
I am currently trying to use two travel certificates together to book a new flight, then cancel that in the hopes of getting the remainder of my original ETC also bumped in expiration date.

what didn't work...
  1. calling united on the phone. they just told me to fill out a form on /customercare and it would probably be approved
  2. I emailed customer care twice, the first time they said they couldn't extend it, but if i wait until it expires, they might be able to extend it . the second they just flat out said no.
  3. I tried booking first/business class flights that were slightly over the amount, cancelling within 24 hours, and cancelling outside of 24 hours (~26 hours), but both resulted in the same expiration date on my travel certificates.
I wish everyone good luck for extending these, if you're in the same boat as me!
Just yesterday I was able to use this method to extend travel certificate/credit by a year. When I go to book a new ticket I'm able to use the extended certificate(s) and the expiration date that is shown is the new, extended date. Given that everyone is reporting that this method is dead - am I missing something?
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