United Airlines is now providing refunds for voluntary cancellations on tickets that were sold via travel agencies. The policy, which took effect late last week, applies to nonrefundable tickets with the exception of basic economy tickets.
In a United for Business email, the carrier touted the policy as,
"allowing for the return of value to customers who want to book a new
itinerary with a lower fare or cancel their trip, all while minimizing
administrative burden for agencies and corporations."
United didn't respond to requests for additional comment about the new policy.
The airline will charge a fee of $100 for cancellations of domestic tickets, according to Peter Vlitas, senior vice president of airline relations for Internova Travel Group. On international tickets, the cancellation fee will be $200 for economy-class tickets, $300 for premium cabin tickets and $400 for business-class tickets.
• Related: It might be a good time to use flight credits
Vlitas said the new policy is a good one for consumers. But he also said United should ease its policy on flight credits for tickets issued via travel agencies. Under the existing policy, he said, agency customers who cancel their travel and choose to accept a flight credit can apply that credit to the purchase of a single itinerary. If the cost of that trip is less than the value of the flight credit, United won't let the customer retain the residual value.
Conversely, Vlitas said, Delta and American allow credits on agency-issued tickets to be used over multiple flights, but they won't provide refunds for voluntary cancellations.
"They should have done this if you want a refund, but they should have also changed the residual rule," Vlitas said of United.