24-hr Free Cancellation with Expedia and United

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Apr 14, 2019
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#1
I purchased two United Airlines tickets with Expedia on Apr 4, 2019, and canceled them on Apr 5 (within 24 hours) on United website. Nothing unusual was observed during the whole process. However, I was not able to get the refund. I called both United and Expedia several times, and they said that the 24-hr free cancellation policy does not apply since I made the purchase with Expedia and cancelled the flight on United website.

This is very frustrating since 1) both United and Expedia advertise their 24-hr free cancellation policy, which is also an regulation issued by DOT; 2) no warning was prompted before I confirmed the cancellation on United website. I wouldn't have made that cancellation on United website if I was aware that I would be subject to 300$ cancellation fee.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
When a consumer books through an OTA (Expedia), all future transactions must begin with that entity. And while some OTAs adhere to it, the 24 hour rule applies only to carriers. Also, the flight must be 7 days or more in the future . . .
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#3
I purchased two United Airlines tickets with Expedia on Apr 4, 2019, and canceled them on Apr 5 (within 24 hours) on United website. Nothing unusual was observed during the whole process. However, I was not able to get the refund. I called both United and Expedia several times, and they said that the 24-hr free cancellation policy does not apply since I made the purchase with Expedia and cancelled the flight on United website.

This is very frustrating since 1) both United and Expedia advertise their 24-hr free cancellation policy, which is also an regulation issued by DOT; 2) no warning was prompted before I confirmed the cancellation on United website. I wouldn't have made that cancellation on United website if I was aware that I would be subject to 300$ cancellation fee.
They are correct - you need to cancel with whoever you booked with. If you book with Expedia, you have to cancel through Expedia.

And just an FYI - unless you book directly with the airline, the 24 hour rule doesn’t apply. It is a courtesy when the agency you book through provides a refund. A travel agency doesn’t have to honor the 24 hour rule.
 
Likes: VoR61
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
The DOT free cancellation only applies to tickets booked directly with the airline and more than 7 days in advance. Many, but not all, of the OTAs offer a similar 24 hour free cancellation. Once you booked with Expedia the DOT regulations do not apply to you.

As VoR61 and Neil pointed out all changes to a ticket need to be made the with the entity where originally booked -- whether Expedia or other OTA, a real human travel agent, or with the airline directly.

You can write to Expedia and ask for an exception;.
 
Likes: VoR61
Apr 14, 2019
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#5
Thank you all for your replies!

I negotiated again with Expedia and United and they agreed to give me a one-time exemption and issue the full refund.

I also did some research on the DOT regulation and understand that it only applies to the airlines. However, Expedia also explicitly advertises their 24-hour free cancellation policy.

If a cancellation fee would occur if I cancel the tickets through United, they should have at least show me a heads-up before my confirmation. However, it was not the case..
 
Mar 18, 2019
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#6
If he cancelled the ticket within 24 hours, isn't United required to refund the value of the ticket (to Expedia)? If that's the case, wouldn't that help him build a case with Expedia to get his money back?
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
If he cancelled the ticket within 24 hours, isn't United required to refund the value of the ticket (to Expedia)? If that's the case, wouldn't that help him build a case with Expedia to get his money back?
No, UA is not required. The DOT rule only applies to bookings made directly with the airline; the OP did not book with the airline so no DOT 24 rule protection.

Expedia has its own way of voiding a ticket without a fee within 24 hours -- as the OP did not contact Expedia, Expedia could not do the no fee void.

The OP got hit with a $300 cancellation fee which was likely the normal fee for the ticket fare rules.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#8
No, UA is not required. The DOT rule only applies to bookings made directly with the airline; the OP did not book with the airline so no DOT 24 rule protection.

Expedia has its own way of voiding a ticket without a fee within 24 hours -- as the OP did not contact Expedia, Expedia could not do the no fee void.

The OP got hit with a $300 cancellation fee which was likely the normal fee for the ticket fare rules.
For my understanding, Christina, if you know: Wouldn't Expedia (or Priceline) hold the funds anyway so they can refund if needs be? Or do they pay the airline immediately?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,794
15,414
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
If he cancelled the ticket within 24 hours, isn't United required to refund the value of the ticket (to Expedia)? If that's the case, wouldn't that help him build a case with Expedia to get his money back?
When you book through an OTA, you have to make all changes and cancellations through them. This is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t.

Luckily the OP was able to work it out but this should be a lesson learned for all readers- do it the right way and all dealings need to be with who you book through.
 
Apr 14, 2019
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#10
When you book through an OTA, you have to make all changes and cancellations through them. This is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t.

Luckily the OP was able to work it out but this should be a lesson learned for all readers- do it the right way and all dealings need to be with who you book through.

I recall that United used to refuse me making any changes on their website to the flight if it is booked from Expedia. However, this time the website did not put up any warning. Nothing about the fees was shown even after I cancelled the flight -- otherwise I would have called them right away.

I agree it is a lesson for me (in a hard way). However, I think the airlines and travel agencies should put up this rule explicitly to let every customer be aware of it.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#11
For my understanding, Christina, if you know: Wouldn't Expedia (or Priceline) hold the funds anyway so they can refund if needs be? Or do they pay the airline immediately?
For non opaque sites I believe the money is usually on its way once buy is hit but can still be voided (by Expedia for example).

Neil likely knows a lot more about this so I will defer to him.
 
Likes: VoR61
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
Thank you all for your replies!

I negotiated again with Expedia and United and they agreed to give me a one-time exemption and issue the full refund.

I also did some research on the DOT regulation and understand that it only applies to the airlines. However, Expedia also explicitly advertises their 24-hour free cancellation policy.

If a cancellation fee would occur if I cancel the tickets through United, they should have at least show me a heads-up before my confirmation. However, it was not the case..
I am glad you received a one time exemption -- in some ways the airlines expect one to be familiar with the rules and restrictions. -- and have not cancelled in ages after the 24 hour rule. When I have made a change I have to pay the change fee immediately so I know there is a pop-up for that.

In the future book directly with the airline for the 24 hour protection and for not having to deal with an OTA -- or for something more complex, one can always find a reputable travel agent who can take care of everything.

Yuan I am glad it worked out for you, it can be confusing.
 
Likes: VoR61

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#13
Thank you all for your replies!

I negotiated again with Expedia and United and they agreed to give me a one-time exemption and issue the full refund.

I also did some research on the DOT regulation and understand that it only applies to the airlines. However, Expedia also explicitly advertises their 24-hour free cancellation policy.

If a cancellation fee would occur if I cancel the tickets through United, they should have at least show me a heads-up before my confirmation. However, it was not the case..
Great news, yuan! You should be very proud of yourself ... this doesn't happen very often. People just need to remember that the online booking service OWNS their tix, they can't count on any help at all without going back to the OBS, and that, of course, is time-consuming and much more difficult than it should be. Very well done!
 
Likes: VoR61