How to change or cancel a United flight

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United is one of the biggest carriers in the U.S. and we get a lot of questions about their policies and procedures — especially when it comes to award flights.

This guide will explain, step by step, how to change or cancel a United flight. We’ve included information regarding both flights purchased with cash and those that have been purchased with miles.

United has made some policy changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll review those, too.

(Photo by NextNewMedia/Shutterstock)

United’s COVID-19 changes

Here’s what you need to know about United’s change and cancellation policies in light of the coronavirus outbreak:

Flights booked already (booked after March 2): You can cancel or rebook tickets without charge. If you cancel your tickets, you’ll receive a travel credit valid for 24 months from the date of issue. If United cancels your flight and you can’t be rebooked to a new itinerary that gets you to your destination within six hours of its original arrival time, you can request a full refund to your credit card.

Flights booked on or before March 2: You can cancel (and receive a travel credit) or change your itinerary for no fee if you planned to travel between June 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, as long as the new travel commences within 24 months of the original ticket’s issue date. The change has to be made by May 31 and the new itinerary must commence within 24 months of the original. If the airline cancels your flight and you cannot be rebooked to a new itinerary that gets you to your destination within six hours of your original arrival time, you can request a full refund to your credit card.

Award tickets: United is waiving the mile-redeposit fee for canceled award flights set to depart before May 31.

Future travel: Any tickets purchased through May 31, 2020, can be canceled or changed without any fees. You can’t get a cash refund. If you rebook your flights, you’ll have to pay the difference in fare between the original ticket and the new price and you won’t be issued a credit or refund if the new itinerary costs less than the original booking. Credits on cancellations are valid for 12 months from the original ticket date.

More information: See the full United policy here.

How to change or cancel your United flight

Changing or canceling a United flight booked on the United airlines website (whether it be a paid or award ticket) can be done in four easy steps:

  1. Sign in to your United account.
  2. Manage your reservation.
  3. Select whether you’re changing or canceling your flight.
  4. Confirm your selection and receive a confirmation.

Here’s a more detailed look at the process:

Step 1.  Sign in to your account

From United’s home page click the “Sign In” button at the top right-hand side of the screen.

 

 

Then enter your MileagePlus account number and password to log in.

Step 2.  Manage your reservation

After you’re logged in, select “My trips” in either of the menus displayed. They’ll both take you to the same spot.

 

 

If you booked your flight with your United account information, your reservation should automatically show up under “My trips.”

 

 

From there just click the itinerary you’d like to manage.

If your trip doesn’t display, you’ll need to enter your confirmation number and last name to pull it up and start the change/cancellation process.

 

 

Step 3.  Select your self-service option

After locating your itinerary you’ll have the option to manage your trip — things like selecting your seat and paying for bags. To change or cancel the flight click either the “Change flight” or “Cancel flight” button.

 

Step 4.  Complete the change or cancelation

In this example, I opted to cancel my flight. After selecting “Cancel flight,” you’ll be asked to confirm that you’d like to cancel your trip and then you’ll need to click the “Cancel trip” button. After that, you’ll be asked one more time to confirm the cancellation.

 

 

Finally, you’ll get the confirmation that your trip has been canceled.

If you elect to change your trip, the process will be very similar but you’ll be directed to select the new itinerary you want to replace your existing booking.

 

Last, you’ll receive an email confirming the change or cancellation details.

Change and cancellation fees

Paid tickets

If you decide to change or cancel a paid United ticket that isn’t covered by a travel waiver or special circumstance (like the COVID-19 pandemic), you’ll be subject to certain fees:

Ticket TypeChange / Cancellation Fee
Basic Economynot allowed
Nonrefundable$200 for domestic tickets

$200 — $400 for international tickets
Refundable$0

And remember, basic economy fares cannot be changed or canceled — even for a fee.

Award tickets

When you cancel a United award ticket, your miles will be deposited back to your MileagePlus account. The cancellation fee will be subtracted from any taxes and fees you paid for your award ticket. And if the cancellation fee is greater than the fees associated with your award ticket, you’ll have to pay the difference.

The amount of the change or cancellation fee will depend on your United elite status and how far in advance of departure you’re making the change or cancellation.

Here’s a rundown of the fees associated with canceling or changing a United award ticket:

When the Change / Cancellation is MadeGeneral MemeberPremier SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
61 days or more from departure$75$50$25no feeno fee
60 days or less from departure$125$100$75$50no fee

It’s worth noting that United is one of the few airlines that will redeposit your miles if you don’t show up for your flight. Regardless of your elite status, a mileage refund after a no-show costs $125. That’s no drop in the bucket, but it could be worth paying if it’s for a high-value award ticket.

Ways to earn United miles

The easiest way to earn United miles is by signing up for a cobranded United credit card like the Unitedâ„  Explorer Card or Unitedâ„  Business Card â€” both of which are offering great welcome bonuses right now. Or you could get a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and transfer the rewards you earn to United at a 1:1 ratio.

There are other ways to earn those miles, like flying United or its partners, using the United MileagePlus X app, dining out and more. For a more comprehensive look at these options, check out our guide to earning United Airlines miles.

Bottom line

Changing or canceling a United flight is a straightforward process. With your confirmation number in hand, it only takes a few clicks to alter your reservation.

Meghan Hunter is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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