United co-pays costs non-US members real cash


Some time ago I wrote about how United disadvantages International Members – for example by denying us the chance to search for upgrade space at the time by booking. If your country is set to anything apart from US, then you get an error message. The post is linked above.

The latest twist is when I recently applied for an upgrade from a Z fare, for London to San Francisco (part of my trip with problems during the LH strike). United now collects any co-pay for upgrades at the time the request is made, United only did this if the upgrade cleared.

For non-US customers this results in charges of two types:

  • As it takes several days for a refund if you upgrade fails to clear then there are often changes in exchange rates. In addition, some credit cards use different rates for sales and refunds. These never work in the favour of the customer. In my example the exchange rate had changed form £1 = $1.5902 to $1.6021 losing me £2.56.
  • Many International credit cards make a charge for a transaction – as a Foreign Exchange Fee. In this case they charged £10.34 for the transaction.

a close up of a sign

So United, isn’t it time you looked after your International Customers?

a logo of a company


  1. One of The problems with the new United is that it seems to be run by people who have a small-town, parochial mentality. If it works in Peoria, it must be ok everywhere.

  2. And if the exchange rate flips in the other direction you make money, right?

    I had a car rental in the UK in 2007 where after I returned the car it received 2 parking tickets. Hertz assigned them to me because I had the car that morning. I paid many dollars to call their 0845 number to figure out what was going on and after weeks got the fees refunded. In the interim the Dollar devalued huge against the Pound. It cost me more than $50 and several hours and I hadn’t even done anything wrong.

    Regarding the f/x fee issue, that’s everywhere, too. Hardly a United thing.

  3. This is a disincentive for UA customers using non US based credit cards. Does seem to show that management is not yet thinking at the international level yet.

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