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Northern Italy trip in May and flight refund question

We were flying United Airlines to Northern Italy in early May but no longer feel optimistic given travel warnings. United's website is currently allowing change fee waivers for flights through April 30. If I'm reading it right, the flight must be rescheduled during the year after purchase. (I bought all segments of the tickets through United, but the Northern Italy segment is Luftansa. So I think any refund or change has to go through United.)

Has anyone managed to get a refund from United for an April or May flight to Northern Italy, or has anyone been given better options over the phone? I'm not able to wait until five days before the trip to see if the flight gets cancelled. I don't have viable dates for rescheduling, and anyway like everyone else don't know when the travel warnings will subside. I realize United is swamped with calls right now. This is why I was wondering if anyone already had gotten responses about May travel to Northern Italy, so maybe I can put off calling for a few weeks. I'm guessing there are a lot of people out there in my situation. Thanks in advance!

P.S. Not sure whether this belongs in Italy or transportation, so apologies if it's off topic.

Posted by
6061 posts

I think you have to wait for guidance that covers flights through May, and it just hasn't been published yet (but it will eventually). I would hold off right now and not try to call them because they are really over capacity and they are trying to deal with people with more immediate schedules. Instead, I would wait and keep checking the website until you see your travel dates. Yes, there are thousands of travelers in your exact situation.

Posted by
26 posts

Gracie, my United flights, end of April- mid May (Rome) were cancelled by United. However, they didn't notify me. I found it during one of my obsessive hunts for updates. The reservation page said I needed to call customer service but didn't specify what the problem was. The representative offered a full refund for the fair and seat upgrades even though the published rules stated fee free change and fair match for travel by June 30th or fee free change for travel by purchase date. She told me she wasn't supposed to offer a refund if there was an alternate route ( Munich) but she got it approved anyway.

I know its hard, but if you can hold out and wait for them to cancel it would be to your benefit. But keep checking because they may not notify you like they did to me.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your experience! I guess I'll have to keep checking my reservation, too. I don't suppose you recall the name of the agent you spoke to? (ha ha). I don't think I'm even going to try getting someone on the phone with United until late next week.

Posted by
5448 posts

...United Airlines to Northern Italy in early May....

United is now accommodating changes for travel through May 31.
https://hub.united.com/united-coronavirus-covid19-safety-update-2645397564.html?campaign_type=cce

Rescheduling a trip: If you're scheduled to travel March 10 – May
31, 2020
and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do
so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're
traveling. See waiver details

https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/notices.html#nochangefees

All change fees waived for tickets issued on or before March 2, 2020

Airports All cities

Original travel dates March 9, 2020 - May 31, 2020

Posted by
26 posts

Gracie, I spoke with Claudia, but I'm sure it's the luck of the draw when you call. I spent an hour and a half on hold at 5 am last Saturday. Good luck!

Posted by
7153 posts

And no "change fees" doesn't mean you won't pay any additional. You'll still pay the difference in fare from your original fare to your new fare. You just won't have to pay the normal (and outrageous) fee they charge for an employee to actually book you on a different flight.

Posted by
2903 posts

I have to say wait. Most airlines are overwhelmed with calls from people who are scheduled to fly much, much sooner than this. Many have asked people not to call unless their flight is within a certain period of time so they can take care of the ones with the most pressing needs first.

May is too far out.

Posted by
6 posts

Edgar, I saw that but the waiver for Northern Italy is separate from the one you posted and, if I'm reading it correctly, the Northern Italy waiver has different (and more favorable) terms. If you look near the bottom of the page you'll see the separate policy for Northern Italy which right now is only for flights through April 30. I was hoping to hear from people who have spoken to United reps specifically about that Northern Italy waiver.

Posted by
6 posts

Tim, that is a good point but may not be true for Northern Italy travelers. United seems to have a different policy for them. Right now, I think United is saying it'll honor the same fare for rebooked travel but only if the travel is through June 30. I don't think I could manage a rescheduled trip that soon even if COVID-19 magically vanished.

If United refuses to give refunds to travelers impacted by U.S. travel warnings, IMO they should allow rebooking the same or similar route at the same fare for one year after the travel date (not the purchase date).

Posted by
26 posts

Hi Gracie, I don't know if you noticed but Rome is included in the Northern Italy waiver policy. Like I said in my previous posts, they were very accommodating as far as a full refund. But they cancelled on me. I don't know if that is the key. Maybe I just got lucky with the United representative. She was in a very good mood that morning.

Have you checked the status of your flights? That's how I found out about my "change".

Posted by
6 posts

Jennifer, I did check and nothing obvious. I bought the entire ticket from United but the flight out is on Lufthansa planes via Frankfurt. I’m thinking the flight will be cancelled in early April. If not, I guess I’ll have to reschedule for August and hope it is safe to travel then (I’m doubtful, but United’s policy is 12 months from booking). United seems to have a much stricter refund/reschedule policy than Delta and other airlines during this crisis.

Posted by
26 posts

Hi Gracie, try to hang in there. With the numbers ticking up everywhere and restrictions getting tighter it's hard to imagine that more flights won't be cancelled. Especially with the way things are going in Italy. The daily numbers are horrific. My heart breaks for those poor people.