How to Cancel a United Flight

Cancel online or by phone, but you'll have to submit a refund request separately.
Natasha Etzel
By Natasha Etzel 
Edited by June Casagrande

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If you’re considering flying with United Airlines anytime soon or already have something booked, it’s a good idea to learn the cancellation and refund rules. This way, if something comes up and your travel plans change, you’ll know how to cancel your flight.

Here’s what to know about canceling a United Airlines flight — whether you purchased the ticket outright or redeemed MileagePlus miles to book your ticket.

Which tickets can be canceled and when?

Most United tickets are technically nonrefundable, but you may have more options than meet the eye. Here is the United flight cancellation policy.

Canceling within 24 hours of booking

  • Most ticket types, including basic economy, are eligible for a full refund within 24 hours of booking so long as you booked your trip at least a week before departure and booked directly with United. This rule is due to the airline’s 24-hour flexible booking policy.

  • Your refund will be credited as cash back to your original payment unless you booked with a United Gift Certificate. If this is the case, the refund will be credited in the form of an electronic travel certificate.

  • Tickets booked using e-certificates aren't eligible.

  • If you paid a FareLock fee to hold a reservation, you can’t get that fee refunded.

Canceling more than 24 hours after booking

More than 24 hours after booking, cancellation rules vary depending on the ticket type purchased.

  • Basic economy: No cancellations are allowed beyond 24 hours from booking.

  • Nonrefundable tickets: Most United tickets are nonrefundable, which means you're not going to get cash back. However, you may be eligible to apply the value of your ticket toward the price of a new ticket with its travel credits.

  • Refundable tickets: If the ticket purchased is refundable, you can cancel and get a refund in cash back to your original form of payment before the flight departs. Depending on the fare type (there are over 20 different kinds), you may need to pay a cancellation fee.

  • Award tickets: If you redeemed MileagePlus miles for your flight and want to cancel, you’ll be given the option to redeposit the miles or use the miles for another trip in the future. There’s no redeposit fee unless you are a no show. In this instance, you will be charged a flat fee of $125 to redeposit your award miles, regardless of status level.

Is it better to cancel a flight or change it?

If you know you’ll want to rebook your United flight and you already know the dates, changing your flight instead of canceling outright could save you money. Most United flights paid for with cash are no longer subject to change fees.

Basic economy flights and international flights originating outside the U.S. ticketed after the cutoff date may incur change fees.

How to cancel your United flight

Wondering how to cancel a United flight? There are two ways.

  1. Call 800-864-8331 to request a cancellation.

  2. Log in to your United Airlines account and select "My trips." Verify your trip details, then select "Manage." From there, you'll see "Cancel options" to the far right.

how to cancel united flight

Then, you'll see a confirmation screen, including details to how the value of your ticket can be accessed for future flights.

canceling a united flight

As expected, this main cabin economy fare will turn into a United flight credit that is applicable towards flights before its expiration date.

3. You can click "Cancel trip" to complete the process.

Canceling your flight online is likely the quickest option, especially if call wait times are long.

Can I cancel a United flight booked with miles?

If you paid for your ticket with United MileagePlus miles, you can cancel your flight online or by calling customer service. As of Jan. 1, 2023, you can cancel an award ticket at any time before departure and have the miles redeposited without paying a fee.

The only circumstance when this doesn't apply is if you are a no show for your award flight. In this case, you have the option to redeposit your miles for a $125 fee.

United Airlines refund for your canceled trip

If you’ve canceled your United flight and think you're entitled to a cash refund, follow this process to get reimbursed.

  • Fill out a refund form, and United will contact you to let you know if you qualify for a ticket refund.

  • You can also use the refund form page to check the status of your refund.

The type of refund you will be offered will depend on the type of ticket you purchased and the reason for canceling. In some cases, you may get a refund straight to your original form of payment, or you may be eligible for a flight credit.

How to use a United future flight credit to rebook

If you canceled a United Airlines flight, you might have a future flight credit to use. Here’s what you’ll need to do to use the credits to rebook.

Future flight credits have a “travel by” date as their expiration; usually, this is 12 months after the date of issue. However, future flight credits issued on or before Dec. 31, 2022, have had their “travel by” date extended to Dec. 31, 2023.

Other options for getting your money back

If United Airlines won’t help you, travel insurance might. This optional standalone insurance can be purchased separately from your airfare.

But you might not even need to pay out-of-pocket for trip insurance because many credit cards offer travel insurance as a built-in benefit to customers who pay for a flight on that card.

Sometimes, though, not even trip insurance will guarantee a refund. Unless you’ve purchased a Cancel For Any Reason policy, which is usually more expensive, you’re only entitled to a refund if you cancel for a covered reason.

Final thoughts on how to cancel your United flight

In most cases, you can cancel a United flight. Just call United Airlines customer service or complete the task online. Whether you’re charged fees or eligible for a full refund or flight credits depends on the type of ticket purchased. Knowing United’s cancellation rules will help you book with confidence and handle any unforeseen change of plans.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:

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