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Requesting a refund for a refundable ticket on United?

We canceled 2 Rick Steves back-to-back tours this spring that involved 3 countries each, and rebooked a single country tour, in order to keep things simple.

I had purchased refundable tickets on United. I haven't tried to get the refund yet, so I don't know that it won't work just fine, but it looks like the process says to cancel the flights, request a credit for future flights, then go back and request the refund. I'm a little leary of just canceling the flights. I'm wondering if anyone has been through this process yet with United and can tell me how smoothly it has gone.

We are in the D.C. area, so United is the major carrier. I'll probably rebook with them, but I'm also curious if anyone can suggest other carriers to Spain. We'd be flying into Barcelona in April and out of Madrid in May. Having done a little research, I'm surprised at how limited the choices seem to be. We like to fly Premium Economy, and because of circumstances, I'd be looking at refundable again. These flights are quite a bit less expensive than the first set of flights, so I don't want to just change the dates.

Posted by
206 posts

I had good luck using the "Message" function on the United phone app when I cancelled my trip last September. In my case I was able to invoke the "Unacceptable Schedule Change" clause (more than two hours in my case) to get a full refund, even though the original booking wasn't refundable.

You might try doing this and when you get connected to the agent just start with "I want to cancel this refundable booking."

Posted by
3559 posts

Looking at Spain myself late last year I was also surprised by the poor flight choices. Because Iberia is a OneWorld airline your best access to Spain is an American Airlines ticket from one of their hubs. Since IAD is not an American hub nor an Iberia destination you are looking at connecting in Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt for the open jaw you request. Note that Barcelona is overrated, an open jaw into say Seville or Malaga picking up Andalusia then flying home from Madrid offers a lot more sights.

Posted by
688 posts

Thanks Alan for that suggestion with United. I will try that later today. It should be straightforward since we paid for that flexibility, so i"ll keep my fingers crossed!

Tom, thanks for your suggestion on American. The vast majority of flights listed for all the airlines have us fly from Dulles to JFK or Newark, then onward, which I want to avoid. When I filter out domestic airports, the choice of days is more limited. I'll keep searching.

We signed up for the RS Best of Spain tour which starts in Barcelona, where we'll add time for a day trip or two, and ends in Seville where we'll add a night or two. From Seville, we'll travel to Cordova for a few nights, then back to Madrid, where we will have spent three nights already, to fly home.

Posted by
12911 posts

Did you check British Airways? They offer IAD to Madrid and BCN back to IAD (connecting through Heathrow) in April/May for $1437 in Premium Economy.

Edit—-I see I for the Spain cities backwards, but it should be similar for flying in into Barcelona and out from Madrid.

We had a great experience with our flight to BCN on BA in May 2019. Our flight from SEA to Heathrow was late and cut the connection time very short. BA had the Barcelona passengers deplane first ( everyone else, even First Class passengers, had to wait) and we were escorted to the next terminal for the flight, which was held to wait for us (there were 16 of us in all).

Posted by
688 posts

Alan, the message function worked for me, thanks. It was surprisingly easy. Trying to be super cautious with our money in their hands, I first tried calling them. After being on hold for an hour, I decided to try messaging. After “Chatbot” greeted me, it was pretty straightforward and they said I’d get a refund in up to 21 days.

Tom and Lola, I have looked at both American and British Airways, and they both have options for us. United does as well as TAP, but I don’t know much about them. Transfers are done in Lisbon. We haven’t quite worked out departure and return dates yet., but it’s good to know we have choices.

Thank you all for your input.

Posted by
688 posts

Just to follow up--I received the refund for our flights today, 1/14/2022, just four days after my request for a refund! I was expecting to wait the full 21 days mentioned.

Again, thanks Alan for the suggestion to use messaging for the request. It gives me confidence to book our flights to Spain with refundable fares with United. They do seem to have the best options for us, after much searching.