How to Cancel a United Flight

by Ann deBruyn

If you’re considering flying with United Airlines anytime soon or already have something booked, it’s a good idea to learn the cancellation and refund rules. This way, if something comes up and your travel plans change, you’ll know how to cancel your flight.

Here’s what to know about canceling a United Airlines flight — whether you purchased the ticket outright or redeemed MileagePlus miles to book your ticket.

Which tickets can be canceled and when?

Most United tickets are technically nonrefundable, but you may have more options than meet the eye. Here is the United flight cancellation policy.

Canceling within 24 hours of booking

  • Most ticket types, including basic economy, are eligible for a full refund within 24 hours of booking so long as you booked your trip at least a week before departure and booked directly with United. This rule is due to the airline’s  24-hour flexible booking policy .

  • Your refund will be credited back to your original payment unless you booked with a United Gift Certificate. If this is the case, the refund will be credited in the form of an electronic travel certificate.

  • Tickets booked using e-certificates aren't eligible.

  • If you paid a FareLock fee to hold a reservation, you can’t get that fee refunded.

Canceling more than 24 hours after booking

More than 24 hours after booking, cancellation rules vary depending on the ticket type purchased.

  • Basic economy: No cancellations are allowed beyond 24 hours from booking.

  • Nonrefundable tickets: Most United tickets are nonrefundable, but you may be eligible to apply the value of your ticket toward the price of a new ticket if you also pay a fee.

  • Refundable tickets: If the ticket purchased is refundable, you can cancel and get a refund before the flight departs. Depending on the fare type (there are over 20 different kinds ), you may need to pay a cancellation fee.

  • Award tickets: If you redeemed MileagePlus miles for your flight and want to cancel, you’ll be given the option to redeposit the miles or use the miles for another trip in the future. If you choose to redeposit your miles for a flight departing in 30 days or less, redeposit fees will apply. More than 30 days in advance, there’s no redeposit fee.

Should you change your flight instead of canceling?

If you know you’ll want to rebook your United flight and you already know the dates, changing your flight instead of canceling outright could save you money. Most United flights paid for with cash are no longer subject to change fees .

No change fee for:

  • Domestic and international flights originating in the U.S. in every fare class except basic economy.

  • Basic economy tickets issued before April 30, 2021.

  • Flights not originating in the U.S. that were ticketed by July 31, 2021.

Basic economy flights and international flights originating outside the U.S. ticketed after the cutoff date may incur change a fee.

How to cancel your United flight

Wondering how to cancel a United flight? There are two ways.

  1. Call 800-864-8331 to request a cancellation.

  2. Log in to your United Airlines account and select "My trips." Verify your trip details, then select your flights and click "Cancel booking." Then, you'll see a confirmation screen, and you can click "Confirm" to complete the process.

Canceling your flight online is likely the quickest option, especially if call wait times are long.

How to cancel a ticket booked with miles

If you paid for your ticket with United MileagePlus miles, you can cancel your flight online or by calling customer service. If you cancel at least 31 days before departure, there’s no fee to cancel an award flight and have the miles redeposited into your MileagePlus account.

To cancel an award ticket 30 days or less before departure and have the miles redeposited, you’ll pay a fee. For general members, the fee is $125. For elite members , fees can go as low as $50 for Premier Platinum and are free for Premier 1K members.

How to get a refund for your canceled trip

Once you’ve canceled your United flight, you can request a refund. Here’s how.

  • Fill out a refund form , and United will contact you to let you know if you qualify for a ticket refund.

  • You can also use the refund form page to check the status of your refund.

The type of refund offered depends on your ticket type and the reason for canceling your flight.

  • The type of refund you will be offered will depend on the type of ticket you purchased and the reason for canceling.

  • In some cases, you may get a refund straight to your original form of payment, or you may be eligible for a flight credit.

How to use flight credits to rebook a canceled flight

If you canceled a United Airlines flight, you might have a flight credit to use. Here’s what you’ll need to do to use the credits to rebook.

  • Once verified, use the credit to book your new flight.

These credits usually need to be used within 12 months of the date your original ticket was issued. If the ticket was issued between May 1, 2019, and March 31, 2021, the credit is valid through March 31, 2022.

If you need to cancel your United ticket

In most cases, you can cancel a United flight. Just call United Airlines customer service or complete the task online. Whether you’re charged fees or eligible for a full refund or flight credits depends on the type of ticket purchased. Knowing United’s cancellation rules will help you book with confidence and handle any unforeseen change of plans.

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