How to get a pandemic-era refund for a flight to Europe — or the many other places Americans can’t travel right now …


My advice: Call the airline (if you booked via the airline) and make your case. Don’t do via an emailed refund request. (My request was denied via the United website  ) But when I called the airline, I was granted a refund surprisingly quickly.

More details: we bought direct tickets from United  last April for an early September flight from Chicago to Paris for $450 each  — knowing  we might not be able to go due to the coronavirus situation – a situation we had no idea would get  THIS BAD). We  bought the tickets because they were ridiculously cheap, we had long-established plans (a house booked with friends in Burgundy, sigh) and we could cancel or change with no fee and get compensation, whether a credit or refund.

Our flights were soon changed by United from direct to connecting via Newark and our outbound flight leaving at 2 p.m. rather than the original  6 p.m.  — both grounds, I thought, for a refund. (We also assume the flights will eventually be cancelled.) We prefer a refund rather than credit, which according to United must be used to book a new flight  “within a year of the original ticket issue date.”  I think that means we have to book the flight by April 2021 but we don’t have to fly by April 2021.  Also I’m assuming we can fly anywhere and are not locked into our original destination. Regardless, we now question whether we’ll be able to fly at all next year – and if so, when.  So just give us our money back, please! e

United’s “Cancel Bot” informed me I could ‘submit a request” for a refund if my flight “wasn’t rebooked within two hours of (the) original departure time.” But I learned that “submit a request” doesn’t automatically mean “receive a request.”  Two weeks later, an email from the “refund desk” denied my submitted request.   But when I called United ( 1-800-UNITED1 ), I barely had to make my case. The agent said I was eligible for a refund for the reasons I presented in the email request. Of course ,I’m sad we can’t go….but relieved to get the refund. We’ll go as soon as we can…and maybe even fly United, since it was reasonable, after all, about all this.

 

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