My Rebooking experience – United cancels most flights to/from Europe and denies refunds

As everyone predicted, last night United Airlines pulled most of its flight to and from Europe. A trip I had planned for the end of April is a victim of this.

Over the next week I am going to try and post my personal experiences of cancelling and rebooking paid tickets with various airlines in the hope that it gives you an idea of the experience.

I write this after ten minutes on hold with United. Their announcement helpfully tells me that the wait time is 30-40 minutes. Good that the UK 1K number is free.

So, what’s happened to my booking?

My plan was to travel to see a friend in Norfolk, VA. I booked it several weeks ago and managed to secure upgrades to Polaris, travelling out via Newark and back via Chicago. About four weeks ago United changed this to fly via Washington Dulles but maintained the upgrades.

Today I log on and the international sectors are gone, no upgrade redeposited.

Options on the web?

  • A future credit
  • Rebooking to a future date

No option for a full refund.

When I try to rebook – I could go in October- the system doesn’t offer me any upgrades although they are there when you make a new booking. I assume they want new cash rather than old cash. Just to complicate things I paid for an upgrade on one of the domestic legs so I need that back too. Hence the wait on line.

Only 13 minutes on hold now.

I hope that United can just move the booking to the new dates with upgrades, and I get to go.

Whilst we wait for United, let’s check what their web site says about EU261 in the case of a cancellation notified more than two weeks in advance:


Of course we know United isn’t doing that.

The EU has given some helpful recent guidance too:

EU Advise

But we know United’s not doing that either.

25  minutes now…..

Annoyingly it appears that had I been left on my Newark flight I would have been ok, as some flights are not cancelled, after United said yesterday that they were ceasing all Europe flights.

Flights continuing from now through May schedule

  • Newark/New York – Frankfurt (Flights 960/961)
  • Newark/New York – London (Flights 16/17)
  • Newark/New York – Tel Aviv (Flights 90/91)
  • Houston – Sao Paulo (Flights 62/63)
  • San Francisco – Tokyo-Narita (Flights 837/838)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (Flights 863/870)

Although whether the US Government would allow me to travel remains to be seen.

54 minutes now …..

And through. The paid upgrade from Dulles to Norfolk is non-refundable – so I don’t travel and they still get paid, really! I guess that’s in the rules somewhere but seems pretty customer unfriendly.

I had to pay for the increased UK departure tax again ($100), and the fare had gone up a little. More PlusPoints of course as the lowest fare was the closest to the amount I had spent.

So 1 hr 23 minutes and I was rebooked, upgraded and out of pocket by about $150.





  1. Sounds like you go a good deal with everything that’s going on. Let’s all be happy together.

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