United Airlines (as I predicted) rolled back its onerous (and downright unethical) schedule policy that only explicitly permitted refunds if the schedule change was 25 hours or more. But in its place United still has a rule that is three times worse, mathematically at least, than a week ago.
Up until last weekend, any schedule change resulting in a two or more hour delay in getting you to your final destination meant you could opt for a refund. In order to preserve liquidity in light of economic uncertainty, United changed that rule from two hours to 25 hours last Saturday.
In essence, that gave United the ability to cancel your flight on one day and put you on the same flight the day before or day after, whether you wanted it or not. Sure, United was always going to work with you on securing the best schedule possible, but would not necessarily give you a refund if any of the options did not work.
I was not aware of anyone who defended the change in policy. Reservation agents I spoke to were embarrassed, but also afraid to exercise too much “discretion” for fear of repercussions. That’s leadership all right…but not the praiseworthy kind.
United’s New Schedule Change Policy – Six Hours For A Refund
Well, United has rolled back its schedule change policy, replacing the 25 hour rule with a six hour rule. Here’s what United had to say about it:
“When schedule changes occur, more than 90 percent of our customers are being automatically re-booked on a flight that leaves within two hours of their originally scheduled flight. Any customer whose travel is disrupted by more than 6 hours because of our schedule changes will be eligible for a refund. The relatively small percentage of customers who are delayed by 2 to 6 hours are eligible to cancel and retain the value of their ticket for future use. In the case of special circumstances, customers can work with the United Contact Centers to find a resolution.”
Six is better than 25, but it is still 3x as long (two versus six hours) as last week. This remains a customer-unfriendly move, just a less customer-unfriendly move.
I’m known as the United cheerleader among travel bloggers, but I’ve been tough on United this week. I’ll often give United the benefit of the doubt, but not here. Just because the new change fee policy is not as bad as the old one, doesn’t make it a good one. United is facing unprecedented pressure right now, but incoming CEO Scott Kirby and his team cannot make the mistake that disgraced ex-CEO Jeff Smisek did: customers are not simply expendable.
> Read More: United’s New Schedule Change Policy Is Indefensible
Unfortunately it is a sign of the times. Sleazy business practices and shaky ethics are the norm
In a survey 60% of white evangelical males said that trump was very ethical. This tells you more about the ethics of evangelicals than about trump.
Our next president Joe Biden should kick those evangelicals off welfare by taking away their tax exempt status.
@ Matthew – And they have still permanently lost my trust. Idiots.
This article is not accurate. I’ve had my flight cancel and when all other options were not agreeable to me, United refunded my ticket.
Why are you not writing about any other airline than United. It’s like all/any “bloggers” do is target this one airline when they all have the same policies.
Rose, I fly over 100K miles on Untied each year and have written about them for over a decade. I’m not targeting United. I’m glad you had an exception made for you. That’s not the rule, though. I just reported on the rules. Thanks for reading.
@Rose B – you clearly don’t read this blog if you don’t understand that Matthew has a focus about United.
While it’s great that you shared your experience, your experience does not equate to everyone else’s, otherwise that would be the published rule.
While the big 3 tend to have the same policies, this article is about a specific policy. Since you claim that “they all have the same policies” would you please reference Delta’s and Americans relevant policy so we can see they are doing the same thing in regards to this?
United is w/o a soul. They still will not refund previously purchased tickets to Italy! My wife and I are in our 70’s and it would be suicidal for us to go now. No sympathy from United. Truly shameful!
I take your criticism of United more seriously than I do someone like Gary Leff, precisely because you actually fly them all the time and don’t dump on them unnecessarily.
Scott Kirby is without question the new Smisek. The employees who actually have to face the traveling public are the ones I feel bad for since they will take the emotional beating created by their “leaders”. Absolutely disgraceful. Every chance UA leadership has a chance to actually do something to raise themselves above the competition, they do the opposite. It’s as if Kirby is in a race to the bottom but AA is still in the lead…but for how long? As mentioned in another post, on my recent flight to Sydney I had a great experience but Kirby had zero to do with that.
No mention about the best “rule” . They’ve given oeople the option to buy tickets in Mar h with no change fee. However if you change to a ticket with a higher fare they charge you. However you change to ticket with a lower fee there’s no credit. I just swapped a $700+ ticket for a $400 ticket. No credit. Even though the electronic transaction showed one due. I would have been further ahead to pay the change fee
This is not cool. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
@Greg: Please update us if UA gives you a refund in fare difference in a UA travel voucher. For revenue ticket, They never refunded the difference back to the credit card, but always issue a “lovely” UA travel voucher that is only good when you fly with them (not partner, not codeshare)
What lesson is there for Kirby to learn from Smisek’s fate other than to keep is hand out of the political cookie jar? Let’s not forget that “disgraced ex-CEO” Smisek’s ouster was unrelated to his treating United’s customers as expendable. Smisek would probably still be getting paid big bucks to make life miserable for those traveling on United had he not been caught up in the scandal involving accusations that the airline had attempted to influence officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Instead, he had to make do with a $28.6 million golden parachute.
Business schools have taught that the only stakeholders CEOs have to worry about are shareholders. Increasing shareholder value was the buzz phrase of the overrated jack which. Not customers who are just a conduit to revenues and certainly not community or environment.
Any wonder most CEOs are sociopaths sho care about a very narrow group of people (remind you of fast chimpanzee with blonde hair?) I think the MBA curriculum is changing to be more holistic but till then the capatilists should reap what they have sown.
Too bad customers usually are shareholders too angr their greed for money overwhelms their need for good experience. Else customers can still get busineses to change.
Just another example of how United is trying to run their loyal customers away. Every new policy they announce is for their benefit with no concern for their passengers. I have been flying with United for 25 years but their new restrictions on premiere status, utilizing award miles, this change in delay policy, etc.. are really causing me to search for a new carrier.
When will United waive change fees for tickets purchased before March? Like many people, I had to cancel a trip when a meeting canceled because of coronavirus. United credited me the fare, but will charge a change fee when I use the credit. United is waiving change fees for tickets purchased in March, but not before. Not a great way to treat loyal customers (I’m a regular 1K with 1.53 million miles on United) who planned ahead.
The fee has been waived.