Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen many airlines around the globe continue to adjust their flight schedule and make necessary flights cut in response to the falling demand and travel restrictions.
While we are seeing more airlines relaxing their rules for flight changes & cancellations, in favor of the customers, United Airlines has just made a jaw dropping decision to make it harder for passengers to seek a ticket refund when the flight is delayed or cancelled.
What is The Policy Change?
Effective today, a refund will only be offered if there is a schedule change of at least 25 hours; the previous threshold was at least 2 hours.
In other words, let’s say that you were flying from San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) today (9 March 2020) and that flight was canceled. You can NOT request a refund if United chooses to rebook you on the same flight tomorrow (10 March 2020) or schedules you on their partner ANA which leaves essentially at the same time because both flights leave in less than 25 hours.
As a point of contrast, if that same flight were delayed by 2 hours yesterday (8 March 2020), a passenger would have been well within their rights to request and receive a refund.
(Questionable) Explanation For The Policy Change
Here is the explanation by United Airlines:
“We recently announced a significant reduction of our international and domestic schedules and as a result, we expect more customers to be impacted than normal. This policy change allows us to accommodate our customers by offering more options to rebook their flights.“
More options? WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT!?
It is quite clear that this is a forced explanation by United. Unfortunately, someone (or perhaps the entire United Airlines marketing department) thought this was an adequate explanation for this unfavorable policy change; which, in my opinion, failed horribly.
How much does @united want to conserve cash? Before Saturday, after a schedule change of more than two hours, United happily would refund you. The new policy is 25 hours. Spokeswoman said: “We do everything we can to rebook customers in as timely a manner as possible.” pic.twitter.com/BgEQ1PsyHA
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) March 7, 2020
Listen, we all understand that airlines are experiencing someone of the hardest times right now and I feel bad but this is also a part of business.
If I paid for a service (i.e. arrive at my destination by a certain time or at least on the same day) and you cannot provide that service, it’s ok but give me my money back.
In my opinion, this is why people hate airlines and just further highlights the lack of power between airlines and consumers in the US.
Do you need to change your flight time by a couple of hours? Ok, that’ll cost you a few hundred dollars. Has the airline canceled your flight and put you on a flight 24 hours later, messed up hotel reservations and perhaps your entire trip? Deal with it!
It would be bad enough to change this policy during good times, but to change it during bad times makes it even worse, and to change the threshold for a refund from 2 hours to 25 hours is an extreme stretch.
Am I the only one that thinks this is highway robbery and unfair?