Today I want to talk about United Airlines unofficial Fare Drop Policy which customers can invoke if fares of their tickets drop within 30 days from the time of purchase.
The reason why this policy is unofficial is simple: It’s not published anywhere on the United website or other public platforms, even though there is an internal reference for United agents to pull up.
In general, there has never been a problem for me invoking the fare drop policy and in the past I even got them to waive the US$50 processing fee if I asked nicely, especially when the fare difference was actually less than $50 in which case the fee would have been higher than the refund.
Refunds as part of the fare drop policy (it’s not a “guarantee” since it’s nowhere published) are being distributed to the customer as a customer service voucher to be used on a future ticket purchase.
Here are some rules:
- You have to claim this over the phone, talking to a United Reservations agent;
- Not all agents are actually aware of this so you can either call a few times or ask a supervisor;
- The claim must be made within 30 days of booking the ticket
- Refunds are given in form of a customer service voucher
- The ticket can’t be in Basic Economy due to ticket reissue problems
- A US$50 processing fee applies which apparently can no longer be waived
My most recent experience with this was yesterday when I called United to claim a $15 fare drop on a future one way trip from Seattle to Los Angeles.
Here is what I booked originally last week:
I called the Premier Desk and the first agent didn’t know about the policy at all. Hang up, call again! The second agent was aware of the policy and even read it to me from the internal guidebook when it came to the question of the $50 fee. She said it couldn’t be waived.
That prompted me to ask for a supervisor who was nice but mentioned that United stopped waiving these fees in general. That seemed strange as I never had a problem with the waiver on small amounts. She said United wants to avoid people to call in for tiny refunds which doesn’t sound genuine to me as most aren’t even aware of this policy (heck, even United’s own agents don’t know about it).
I decided to call again a few hours later just for the data points but with the same outcome: No dice!
The good thing: This policy still exists. Unfortunately United stopped waiving the US$50 administrative fee as per my attempt yesterday. Of course being United this could be a temporary change, rely on the mood of the agents or the moon. Who knows!?
Since the Fare Drop Policy is not an official guarantee there isn’t any recourse to complain about it or demand remedy from higher ups. I guess in theory they could even deny it exists in the first place if push comes to shove.
You can always cancel a purchased ticket within 24 hours and rebook if the fare drop occurs shortly after the ticket purchase but beyond that it appears that now it’s only worth to pursue larger fare drop amounts that exceed US$50.