About the author

Matt is the author, co-author, secondary-author, ghost-author, and non-author of articles, speeches, book chapters, and even entire books! Next will be the bestseller "Losing My Religions." Currently, he is President of One Step for Animals; previously, he was shitcanned from more nonprofits than there is room to list here. Before Matt’s unfortunate encounter with activism, he was an aerospace engineer who wanted to work for NASA to impress Carl Sagan. His hobbies include photography, almost dying, and {REDACTED} He lives in Tucson with Anne and no dogs, no cats, and no African tortoises (although he cares for all of these).

Saturday, May 23, 2020

United Airlines: How Not to Win Friends and Influence People

As you well know, Anne and I were supposed to fly to Germany in early May. We had purchased the ticket on October 19, 2019, through United.com (AAA Bank of America Visa). After many many flight changes, in early April, our flight from Denver to Frankfurt was canceled outright.

After much searching, I found a place on the United website to put in for a refund, which I did. It said I would receive my refund in seven business days. After waiting more than seven business days and hearing nothing, I called. After a long hold (understandable) and attempts to get me to take travel credit instead (again, understandable), I was told my refund was approved for both tickets and I would be receiving a credit back on my credit card for the full amount of the purchase (the correct full amount of the credit quoted to me).

Again after more than seven business days of further silence, I called again. When I eventually talked with an agent, I was assured, in absolute certainty, that the refund was approved, but I had to wait longer before I received the credit. This is not so understandable - they were able to charge my credit card instantaneously when I bought the ticket.

Yesterday, I received an email that said "We've processed the refund today." I was relieved, even though it had taken something like six weeks after they had canceled our flight.

Today, when there was still no credit on our credit card, I happened to look at the email from yesterday, and down at the bottom I saw it was for half of the purchase price. I went to their refunds page, and the refund for Anne's ticket had been denied!

Just to repeat, this was the same reservation, the same purchase, the same confirmation number (if you happen to read United: JCE2ZZ), the same canceled flight, the same request for a refund. The ticket numbers were sequential (-98 and -99).

I called again and the agent had no hypothesis for why this would have happened. She said she would put it through again (again for United: Case Number 159026321996846), but again, I would have to "seven to ten business days" to hear back one way or another.

As readers know, I love flying and love planes. I'm willing to put up with a lot. (The last time I flew United, the flight was so delayed I was stranded overnight. These things happen.) But this seems like a deliberate attempt to make me actively dislike a company I would have spent thousands of dollars with in the future.

UPDATE: Thanks for your suggestion. If I don't get the rest of the refund this time, I'm going to my credit card company.

See also: Why is it so hard to get a flight refund?

Photo from United Airlines is Trying to Steal My Money.

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