Rebooking BOS-LAX flight

Old May 6, 20, 1:23 pm
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Rebooking BOS-LAX flight

I've been rebooking my UA BOS-LAX flight monthly since April, hoping to be able to see my daughter. I'm now booked for June 10 and paid cash. I've been stalking the UA website for any flight changes I might not be notified about and now there are only 6 UA BOS-LAX flights listed and no non-stops on 6/10. I'm hoping that means my flight is no longer an option for new bookings, but is not cancelled.

I plan to wait until the last minute to decide if I'm going in June and also to give UA the opportunity to cancel the flight rather than me canceling so I get a refund. Since there are so few flight choices even now in the first week of May, should I book a (second) flight now for July or August when there might be more choice (and hopefully a nonstop option) and then cancel whichever flight I don't take? If yes, should I book that second flight on points or cash?
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Old May 6, 20, 4:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
I've been rebooking my UA BOS-LAX flight monthly since April, hoping to be able to see my daughter. I'm now booked for June 10 and paid cash. I've been stalking the UA website for any flight changes I might not be notified about and now there are only 6 UA BOS-LAX flights listed and no non-stops on 6/10. I'm hoping that means my flight is no longer an option for new bookings, but is not cancelled.

I plan to wait until the last minute to decide if I'm going in June and also to give UA the opportunity to cancel the flight rather than me canceling so I get a refund. Since there are so few flight choices even now in the first week of May, should I book a (second) flight now for July or August when there might be more choice (and hopefully a nonstop option) and then cancel whichever flight I don't take? If yes, should I book that second flight on points or cash?
United has stopped calling cancellations for cancellations. They don't cancel flights any longer. They remove them from the schedule. A schedule change is when the flight is removed and you can be reaccommodated within 6 hours, a significant change is if the change is more than 6 hours. A cancellation is only if the flight is removed, and they can't reaccommodate the passenger. So getting a cancellation from United is tricky at best.

I am sure this definition will be challenged, but so far it stands.
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Old May 6, 20, 5:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
I've been rebooking my UA BOS-LAX flight monthly since April, hoping to be able to see my daughter. I'm now booked for June 10 and paid cash. I've been stalking the UA website for any flight changes I might not be notified about and now there are only 6 UA BOS-LAX flights listed and no non-stops on 6/10. I'm hoping that means my flight is no longer an option for new bookings, but is not cancelled.

I plan to wait until the last minute to decide if I'm going in June and also to give UA the opportunity to cancel the flight rather than me canceling so I get a refund. Since there are so few flight choices even now in the first week of May, should I book a (second) flight now for July or August when there might be more choice (and hopefully a nonstop option) and then cancel whichever flight I don't take? If yes, should I book that second flight on points or cash?
Given the stance UA has adopted on refunds for cancelled flights, I'd be very reluctant to make any cash bookings on UA if your schedule isn't flexible.

I'd go with the miles option since UA is also waiving re-deposit fees as long as it is done 30 days prior to departure.

Then, if you ultimately decide to go in July/August, you can determine if you want to use the funds from your June flight (which there should be a change fee waiver for) towards the July/August flight and cancel the award booking, or just keep the award booking and try for a possible refund or use those funds for something else.
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Old May 7, 20, 6:19 am
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Originally Posted by CPH-Flyer View Post
United has stopped calling cancellations for cancellations. They don't cancel flights any longer. They remove them from the schedule. A schedule change is when the flight is removed and you can be reaccommodated within 6 hours, a significant change is if the change is more than 6 hours. A cancellation is only if the flight is removed, and they can't reaccommodate the passenger. So getting a cancellation from United is tricky at best.

I am sure this definition will be challenged, but so far it stands.
So given that UA just removes flights without notice, should I assume that my current flight is already cancelled since it doesn't show up on a fresh search for 6/10? It's UA 255.

Originally Posted by econ View Post
Given the stance UA has adopted on refunds for cancelled flights, I'd be very reluctant to make any cash bookings on UA if your schedule isn't flexible.

I'd go with the miles option since UA is also waiving re-deposit fees as long as it is done 30 days prior to departure.

Then, if you ultimately decide to go in July/August, you can determine if you want to use the funds from your June flight (which there should be a change fee waiver for) towards the July/August flight and cancel the award booking, or just keep the award booking and try for a possible refund or use those funds for something else.
So then maybe I should book a second, easily refundable flight on a different airline? I have plenty of Chase UR and Amex MR - which airline has the best cancellation policy that can get me from BOS-LAX? Or even cash? - flights are certainly cheap enough - I'm more interested in the ease of cancellation.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 7, 20 at 10:44 am Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old May 7, 20, 6:48 am
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For those who have already booked and who have a situation where the flight they booked is not operating, do not give up if you are issued a credit by UA. The April 3, DOT Enforcement Warning to carriers is manifestly clear that if the flight is cancelled OR there is a significant change, a refund is due. People who want a refund absolutely ought to both file a DOT complaint and also initiate a chargeback with their credit card issuer (bank).

DOT does not enforce individual consumer complaints, but it does require carriers to answer the complaint and it does track what they say. Your complaint should make clear that your flight was cancelled (if it does not operate, it is cancelled), that you exercised your right under DOT rules as most recently made clear (April 3 letter) and were denied.

Your chargeback should include a copy of your e-ticket receipt, a screenshot showing the absence of the flight (or a cancellation if there is one), your request for a refund, and the UA response (or a note that your received one) or that you were issued a credit and did not want one.

"Carriers have a longstanding obligation to provide a prompt refund to a ticketed passenger when the carrier cancels the passenger’s flight or makes a significant change in the flight schedule and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier."

UA may well back down and issue a refund or it may choose to fight DOT should DOT pursue the matter. But, if you do not pursue your claims, you are stuck.
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Old May 7, 20, 7:50 am
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UGH - so my flight not appearing in a new search for the date, time, and flight means it's cancelled? I guess I have to call United then.
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Old May 7, 20, 8:02 am
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Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
UGH - so my flight not appearing in a new search for the date, time, and flight means it's cancelled? I guess I have to call United then.
That does not actually mean your flight is cancelled, but it is a strong indicator that it will be. In fact, although inventory is zeroed (hence being unable to find it in a new search), the flight is still on the schedule.

So no point calling united about it yet.

Good luck.
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Old May 7, 20, 8:23 am
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
That does not actually mean your flight is cancelled, but it is a strong indicator that it will be. In fact, although inventory is zeroed (hence being unable to find it in a new search), the flight is still on the schedule.

So no point calling united about it yet.

Good luck.
Thank you for the definitive response. I'll hang on then. I was wondering if not seeing it in a new search meant that it was "full" according to new social distancing seating requirements or if it was cancelled.
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Old May 7, 20, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by CPH-Flyer View Post
United has stopped calling cancellations for cancellations.
...
I am sure this definition will be challenged, but so far it stands.
The definition of cancellation used by United is standard in the industry and matches DOT use of the term. The only thing that might be questioned is whether or not 6 hours is a reasonable cutoff for determining what constitutes a significant delay.

Originally Posted by econ View Post
Given the stance UA has adopted on refunds for cancelled flights, I'd be very reluctant to make any cash bookings on UA if your schedule isn't flexible.
Agreed.

Originally Posted by econ View Post
I'd go with the miles option since UA is also waiving re-deposit fees as long as it is done 30 days prior to departure.
Also agreed.

Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
So then maybe I should book a second, easily refundable flight on a different airline? I have plenty of Chase UR and Amex MR - which airline has the best cancellation policy that can get me from BOS-LAX? Or even cash? - flights are certainly cheap enough - I'm more interested in the ease of cancellation.
I believe that Delta is still allowing refunds for schedule changes greater than 90 minutes. American has moved its threshold to four hours. Both airlines have sporadic reports of problems getting refunds. Alaska will allow you a refund if the flight changes by more than 60 minutes, but they have a limited LAX-BOS nonstop schedule.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Your complaint should make clear that your flight was cancelled (if it does not operate, it is cancelled)
That simply isn't the way that it works. The DOT is not going to force United to treat all schedule changes, no matter how minor, as cancellations.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
"Carriers have a longstanding obligation to provide a prompt refund to a ticketed passenger when the carrier cancels the passengerís flight or makes a significant change in the flight schedule and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier."
The path to a potential refund comes from the phrase "significant change," not the attempt to say that every single schedule change is a "cancellation."

Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
I was wondering if not seeing it in a new search meant that it was "full" according to new social distancing seating requirements or if it was cancelled.
There's no way to distinguish a flight that is full from a flight that United has zeroed out due to an intention to cancel. However, that flight is nearly empty on the seat map. While that isn't definitive, I wouldn't expect it to operate, but see above on the difficulty getting a refund from UA if the change isn't large enough, and note that nonstop travel is not guaranteed.

Given current flight loads, I don't see much of a rush to book a separate ticket for July or August. In general, one month of advance purchase should get you a reasonable fare, so I'd be tempted to wait, see what happens with your existing flight, and be prepared to change it if/when it becomes necessary.

Also, AFAIK, United has not announced any inventory limits. They're blocking advanced seat assignments, but if they sell enough tickets, they'll fill every seat.
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Old May 7, 20, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
There's no way to distinguish a flight that is full from a flight that United has zeroed out due to an intention to cancel. However, that flight is nearly empty on the seat map. While that isn't definitive, I wouldn't expect it to operate, but see above on the difficulty getting a refund from UA if the change isn't large enough, and note that nonstop travel is not guaranteed.

Given current flight loads, I don't see much of a rush to book a separate ticket for July or August. In general, one month of advance purchase should get you a reasonable fare, so I'd be tempted to wait, see what happens with your existing flight, and be prepared to change it if/when it becomes necessary.

Also, AFAIK, United has not announced any inventory limits. They're blocking advanced seat assignments, but if they sell enough tickets, they'll fill every seat.
Thank you so much. This is super helpful. I am curious how you were even able to see the flight and its seat map - when I do a fresh search, it isn't there. I could check the seat map via my own reservation I guess.
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Old May 7, 20, 9:47 am
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Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
Thank you so much. This is super helpful. I am curious how you were even able to see the flight and its seat map - when I do a fresh search, it isn't there. I could check the seat map via my own reservation I guess.
I looked the seat map up on ExpertFlyer. But, yes, you should be able to view it from within your reservation also. Note that the middle seats are blocked for pre-assignment, so I ignored those.
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Old May 7, 20, 4:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
I've been rebooking my UA BOS-LAX flight monthly since April, hoping to be able to see my daughter. I'm now booked for June 10 and paid cash. I've been stalking the UA website for any flight changes I might not be notified about and now there are only 6 UA BOS-LAX flights listed and no non-stops on 6/10. I'm hoping that means my flight is no longer an option for new bookings, but is not cancelled.

I plan to wait until the last minute to decide if I'm going in June and also to give UA the opportunity to cancel the flight rather than me canceling so I get a refund. Since there are so few flight choices even now in the first week of May, should I book a (second) flight now for July or August when there might be more choice (and hopefully a nonstop option) and then cancel whichever flight I don't take? If yes, should I book that second flight on points or cash?
If I were you, I would prepare UA not operating BOS-LAX for a long time and book on another carrier. UA has been the most aggressive of the big 4 in cutting flights and both BOS & LAX have got the axe.
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Old May 7, 20, 6:47 pm
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Originally Posted by tphuang View Post
If I were you, I would prepare UA not operating BOS-LAX for a long time and book on another carrier. UA has been the most aggressive of the big 4 in cutting flights and both BOS & LAX have got the axe.
That's what I was wondering - should I book a second flight on a different airline (which one (best refundable policy)? points or cash?) that I am positive is refundable and just wait and see if United cancels my existing flight.
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Old May 7, 20, 8:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Graciecatt View Post
That's what I was wondering - should I book a second flight on a different airline (which one (best refundable policy)? points or cash?) that I am positive is refundable and just wait and see if United cancels my existing flight.
The only flights that you can be sure are refundable are refundable fares, and those tend to be pretty expensive. In most cases, award flights are refundable, but they are generally subject to refund conditions, so you'd have to look at each program's conditions. United awards are refundable for free with 30 days notice, through the end of the year.

But, honestly, I don't understand why you'd do anything right now. If your United flight gets cancelled, and you're able to get e refund, then that's great; start from scratch at that point. But if it they merely turn a nonstop into a connection, and refuse to refund it on that basis, you're looking at a fight to get refunded: there are over 2000 posts on the refund thread, and I promise you that very few of those are "easiest thing I've ever done in my life." On the other hand, turning it into a travel credit would be simple; you could then rebook for a later date.

I could understand getting a refundable flight on another airline for June, in order to increase your options if one cancels. But I just don't see the hurry to book anything for July or August. There will be plenty of time to book something if it becomes necessary.
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Old May 8, 20, 7:02 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
The only flights that you can be sure are refundable are refundable fares, and those tend to be pretty expensive. In most cases, award flights are refundable, but they are generally subject to refund conditions, so you'd have to look at each program's conditions. United awards are refundable for free with 30 days notice, through the end of the year.

But, honestly, I don't understand why you'd do anything right now. If your United flight gets cancelled, and you're able to get e refund, then that's great; start from scratch at that point. But if it they merely turn a nonstop into a connection, and refuse to refund it on that basis, you're looking at a fight to get refunded: there are over 2000 posts on the refund thread, and I promise you that very few of those are "easiest thing I've ever done in my life." On the other hand, turning it into a travel credit would be simple; you could then rebook for a later date.

I could understand getting a refundable flight on another airline for June, in order to increase your options if one cancels. But I just don't see the hurry to book anything for July or August. There will be plenty of time to book something if it becomes necessary.
Thank you. Yes, I am wondering about options for both a June alternative flight or rebooking for July/August/September. So much depends on having to wait until the last minute to see if UA cancels my flight. I'm hoping if they do cancel, it would be done more than 24 hours ahead of time.
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