Over the past couple of days, we have seen several reports in our Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook group indicating that United is now waiving award redeposit fees on cancelled flights. To be clear, to my knowledge this is only on flights that have been cancelled by the airline, but it’s better than being told that you need to pay.
United has been pretty awful in terms of its response to customers over the current pandemic. Trying to charge a redeposit fee to get your miles back on flights that they aren’t being operated seems absolutely bonkers to me. I can’t think of another industry where you could buy and pay for something and then be told it’s not available anymore and you need to pay a fee to get your payment back. I get that these cancellations aren’t United “fault”, but neither are they the customer’s fault. In the case of award tickets, United doesn’t need to dig too deep to come up with the refund given that it’s mostly in the form of an imaginary currency they can create out of thin air (plus some small amount in taxes that they theoretically get back from the government entities anyway). Still, they’ve been charging redeposit fee to get the miles back until this weekend.
We started getting some reports yesterday morning of redeposits without a fee and last night Dan’s Deals reported that this is United’s new policy-of-the-hour. According to Dan, United will waive the fee to redeposit miles on award flights cancelled by the carrier, whether on United metal or partners. Keep in mind that while a lot of flights have been cancelled already, there are many situations where airlines are waiting until the last minute to cancel, so your best bet (if your flight is not yet cancelled) is to wait until about 24 hours prior to departure to see if the airline will cancel for you before calling.
If you already paid the redeposit fee on a flight that they had cancelled, you can try calling United to ask for it back. If they turn you down, you can try filing a DOT complaint. Unfortunately, there isn’t a secret sauce in terms of getting them to do the right thing — it’s likely going to require patience and persistence. Don’t give up.