How I Changed My United Reservation for Free after 24 Hours!

I guess I inadvertently started a blog series on United Airlines, But I just have a lot to write about them these days!

A few days ago, I booked a ticket from Vancouver to Kauai for $233 CAD, and at that time, I did not know my return itinerary, so I left it as a one way ticket. After I sorted out my schedule and when it was time to book my return ticket, I searched online and found that the ticket was $208 CAD. That would put the total for the two one-way itineraries at $441 CAD.

Not bad for a round trip to Hawaii.

But I also like to check prices for a round-trip ticket as sometimes they come in a little cheaper than separate one-way tickets (This is most definitely true for international itineraries, but sometimes you can find small savings with domestic tickets as well). In this case, I found out a round-trip ticket on the exact same dates and flights would cost almost $50 CAD less!

Knowing this, I really did not want to spend the extra $48 to book a one-way ticket on the way home. I tried modifying my itinerary although it had been booked more than 24 hours ago, just to see how much the change fee would be:

Well, to my surprise, the change fee was waived! And I only had to pay the difference in fare, which was $165 CAD.

On the payment page, I clicked the Change fee link and oddly, it shows that the fee was waived because the system indicated this was a refundable ticket. My reservation was just a economy “G” fare, which is the lowest of the fare classes besides basic economy. This was most certainly not a flexible / refundable ticket.

While this didn’t make much sense, I did not want to pass up on the chance to save myself $48! I immediately made the flight change, and paid the fare difference without any issues.

What happened?

Afterwards, I decided to investigate further by looking at the fare rules page, which clearly stated this was a non-refundable ticket:

And there we have it. The ticket was indeed non-refundable. I can’t say why United’s system indicated I had a refundable ticket when I was trying to add a return ticket to my reservation; it was definitely a voluntary change beyond the 24-hour grace period.

So next time you have a one way ticket, and would like to add on a return segment if a return ticket is cheaper than two separate one-way tickets, it may not be a bad idea to try to do a schedule change and see if the change fee is waived!