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Like many carriers around the world, United Airlines is currently offering customers extra flexibility when booking flights for future travel. As it’s been doing since March, United will waive all change fees for flights booked through the end of this month, for all future travel dates. While that sounds great on the surface, you’ll lose any residual value if you move to a lower-cost flight, as I explain in this earlier post.
Fortunately, the airline has been offering a workaround, which has given me (and likely many others) the confidence to book future travel. To avoid losing value when moving to a cheaper flight, customers have been able to request that the full value of the original flight be applied to an Electronic Travel Certificate (ETC). For many itineraries, it was even possible to make the request online.
Sadly, that’s no longer the case. As of this month, United has removed the option to cash out to an ETC from its website. Fortunately, it’s still possible to request an ETC by speaking with a reservations agent at 1-800-864-8331. The agent will likely offer to keep the remaining value within your original ticket, but if you explain that you’d prefer an ETC, the airline has confirmed that’s still an option.