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Some airlines require costly fees to change or modify an award ticket. Airline frequent flyer elite members know this but are mostly exempt from the fees or know ways around the fees. In this post, I’ll share an experience with how I was able to cancel an award ticket with United Airlines for free and re-deposit the miles back into my account.
United doesn’t give the Non Premier members many options to cancel awards without penalty. Normally United’s fee schedule requires $150 USD per-person on the itinerary to cancel and re-deposit the miles into a members account. This can get expensive if you have 3 family members traveling on the same itinerary. The two ways around this fee that I see are to (1) wait for a schedule change or (2) modify the award ticket departure date/time/connections when the ticket is greater than 21 days out and wait for a schedule change, then cancel the ticket for free.
In my example, my booked itinerary had a schedule change and I was able to cancel for free.
Steps To Cancel United Award Ticket
1. Identify Schedule Change
Monitor your reservation for a schedule change. The reservation should state the following if a schedule change has occurred:
“There has been a schedule change to your reservation. Please see the change in red in Flight Details”
In my example, the flight changed by about 15 minutes. This obviously wouldn’t work for my schedule, so I moved to the next step.
2. Call United To Cancel Award
Once you see that your award reservation has a schedule change give United a call and see what they can do for your schedule change. In my example, my flight had changed by about 15 minutes. I simply called and let United know that the new flight times would not work for me and I’d like to cancel my award. It only took about 2 minutes and the agent had the cancellation processed. She informed me the miles would take a few weeks to be deposited back to my account.
Some airlines require Non-Elite members to incur costly change fees to modify or cancel award tickets. One exception is that American Airlines allows members to modify award flight timing, like how I changed an American Airlines award ticket timing earlier this year. If your airline does require a change fee and you wish to cancel your ticket, pay attention to whether or not there was a schedule change. Because if there was, you just might be able to cancel your ticket at no cost.
What other ways have you found to cancel an award ticket for free?