How To Avoid United’s $125 Fee For Cancelling An Award, Redepositing Miles

Covering how to prepare yourself for the turmoil of air travel this summer – since so many flights are cancelling, and there are few seats available for rebooking – I suggested booking a backup itinerary using miles for travel later in the day or the next day, and then cancelling the award ticket when your planned flight works out.

However I was asked, “Isn’t United charging for redeposit?” American AAdvantage doesn’t charge a fee for any member to cancel and redeposit miles, but officially United Airlines does unless you are a 1K or Global Services member.

United’s “fee for canceling a ticket for travel originating in the U.S. with miles redeposit 30 or fewer days before departure” is $125 for those without MileagePlus elite status, and it goes down to $50 for Platinum members. However,

  • United has not actually been collecting this fee! Despite published rules requiring it, in practice cancellation within 30 days (even within 24 hours) has been free.

  • And even if United were to change this it would not matter.

Making a change to an award ticket originating in the U.S. inside of 30 days is free. So you’d just change your itinerary travel dates to something in the future and it doesn’t need to be the same itinerary or mileage cost to take advantage of this. Then you’d cancel for free, since cancellation would be occurring more than 30 days to departure.

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