Can You Transfer a United Airlines Plane Ticket to Another Person

Have you ever booked a flight, only to have your plans fall through and need to send someone else on the trip instead? Maybe an emergency situation arose, or you simply can’t travel for work as expected. Whatever the circumstances, you likely wondered – can I transfer my airline ticket to another person?

The short answer is: unfortunately, no. United Airlines and most major carriers prohibit transferring plane tickets to alternate passengers. However, some options exist if you need to change the ticket’s ownership.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover United Airlines’ exact policies on ticket transfers, steps you can take in different scenarios, alternatives like rebooking flights, and answers to common questions travelers have. Read on to demystify the airline ticket transfer process!

An Overview of United Airlines’ Strict No Transfer Policy

The first thing to understand is why airlines institute no transfer policies in the first place. According to United, keeping tickets restricted to the original purchaser:

  • Prevents potential fraud or unauthorized ticket use – if names can freely change, tickets could fall into the wrong hands
  • Upholds security protocols matching passengers to ticketed travelers
  • Helps airlines properly track customer data for operations and marketing

Additionally, change fees and rebooking charges provide substantial revenue for airlines. Allowing transfers without fees would impact their bottom line.

So in nearly all cases, United Airlines does not permit transferring a plane ticket to another traveler regardless of the reason. Even for family emergencies, name changes or transfers are typically prohibited under the standard contract of carriage.

However…some limited exceptions exist.

Scenarios Where United Airlines May Allow Ticket Transfers

While restrictions are stringent, United Airlines may make exceptions under certain circumstances to change ticket ownership. This would require contacting the airline, providing documentation, and paying applicable fees.

Potential scenarios where the carrier could authorize transferring a ticket include:

Minor Spelling/Name Errors

If your name is spelled wrong on the ticket due to a simple input error, United may allow you to correct it after verification.

Refundable/Flexible Fare Types

If you purchased a more expensive refundable fare, transfers may be permitted for a substantial fee. Basic economy tickets have no changes allowed.

Account Credits for Groups/Family

For group or family travel, if the primary ticket holder can’t go, credits might be issued to the group to rebook in someone else’s name.

Bereavement Cases

In genuine emergency situations like a family death, exceptions are sometimes made on otherwise non-transferable plane tickets.

Documentation would be required in these situations to begin any transfer request – for bereavement, typically a copy of the death certificate. United would review based on specific circumstances of the case.

Keep in mind that despite the above exceptions, a ticket transfer is never guaranteed. The airline ultimately has sole discretion.

When Can You Make Changes or Get Refunds on United Tickets?

If United denies your transfer request, two options exist:

  1. Cancel the ticket for future travel credit
  2. Cancel the ticket for a full refund

The ability to cancel with or without penalties depends primarily on two factors:

  • Timing of the cancellation
  • Type of fare purchased

Review United’s policies below to see if you qualify for fee-free refunds or travel credits.

United Airlines’ 24 Hour Cancellation Policy

Fortunately, United does give travelers some leeway to change plans without punishment. The airline allows cancellations with no fees within 24 hours of booking if:

  • Ticket was purchased at least 7 days before departure
  • Fare class permits changes (basic economy excluded)

By immediately canceling unwanted plane tickets and rebooking new flights, the 24 hour policy presents an alternative to forbidden ticket transfers.

Refundable vs. Nonrefundable Fares

United sells both refundable and nonrefundable fare types in economy, business, and first class.

  • Refundable fares are substantially pricier but allow cancelling tickets for a full monetary refund. This then lets you purchase a fresh ticket in someone else’s name.
  • Nonrefundable basic economy fares are cheaper but cannot be cancelled or changed at all after 24 hours. If you cancel these tickets, only a future travel credit is issued, not cash.

When rebooking cancelled tickets, note that using a credit instead of “new money” carries expiration dates and restrictions.

Step-By-Step Process to Request United Airlines Ticket Transfers

Despite frequent denials, you can still formally submit transfer requests to United Airlines in special cases through customer service channels.

Follow these steps:

1. Call United’s Customer Service Hotline

  • Phone: 1-877-738-0332
  • Hours: 24/7

Explain why you require a name change or ticket transfer, providing as many supporting details as possible about extenuating circumstances.

For the best odds, emphasize situations covered in permitted transfer exceptions like a family emergency.

2. Have All Documentation Ready

To back up your transfer claim, have documents prepared like:

  • Government ID proving ticket purchaser
  • Original ticket receipts/etineraries
  • Death certificate for bereavement exception
  • Medical paperwork for health issues

Submit forms through email, online upload, fax, etc per United’s request.

3. Pay Applicable Transfer or Reissue Fees

If United conditionally approves the transfer, expect to pay fees such as:

  • Ticket reissue fee
  • Name change processing charge
  • Fare difference on transfers to a refundable class

Exact prices depend on the situation. Inquire directly regarding estimated costs for your specific case.

4. Follow All Airline Instructions

Finally, carefully adhere to all steps and limitations dictated by United Airlines surrounding the transfer. Terms may include:

  • Deadline to complete name change
  • Only allowing ticket transfers between certain family members
  • Prohibiting transfers if flight is within 72 hours

Remember that without formal approval, you cannot independently transfer a plane ticket to another passenger.

What Are Your Options If United Airlines Refuses a Ticket Transfer?

In many instances, United will deny name change petitions and transfer requests even with documentation provided per company policy.

Don’t panic! You still have options to cancel the flight and recapture value of unused tickets.

Immediately Rebook New Flight in Correct Name

The fastest solution is to cancel the rejected ticket and use the refund or associated credit to book a new flight for whoever needs the ticket in their name.

You’ll still incur change fees but can depart on the required dates.

Save Credit For Future United Airlines Flight

If the timing no longer works to rebook alternate United travel immediately, accept a “future travel credit” which saves the dollar value of the cancelled ticket to apply onto a later flight.

  • Future credits generally expire one year after original ticket purchase. Some exceptions exist like military changes.
  • Credits stay in the original ticket holder’s United travel account until redeemed
  • Flights must be purchased directly via United Airlines using credits

So long as you’ll fly United in the next year, this presents an alternate way to transfer ticket value.

Comparing American, Delta and Other Airline Transfer Policies

While each US airline makes slight amendments, virtually all carriers follow United’s lead in prohibiting transfers to different passengers and limiting name changes on tickets.

For instance, both Delta and American similarly do not permit:

  • Transferring already-issued tickets to another traveler
  • Changing names under normal conditions per contract of carriage
  • Exceptions only made for misspellings or bereavement

Overseas international airlines like Air France, Qantas and Lufthansa also typically forbid ticket transfers. Exceptions relevant to that carrier can sometimes be found however.

In summary – no industry-wide policies exist permitting transfers. Almost all airlines only sell restricted, nontransferable tickets. Learning an airline’s unique reaction to special transfer requests is key.

Airlines Offering Transferable Tickets (For a Huge Premium)

Very few ultra low-cost, high-fee carriers provide customers the choice to purchase transferable plane tickets. However, use care when buying these options.

The only five airlines currently offering transferable ticketing are:

  • Ryanair
  • EasyJet
  • Vueling
  • Wizz Air
  • Frontier

How transferrable tickets operate:

  • Ability to change ticket owner to another passenger
  • New passenger flies under original reservation
  • Transfer fees apply – often same cost as buying a brand new flight!
  • Refunds and changes also expensive

Bottom line – the convenience pays dearly, with minimal situations making them a smart buy over basic economy fares. Analyze carefully before purchasing transferrable tickets.

Common Questions About Transferring United Airlines Tickets

We’ll wrap up the blog by addressing some frequent questions:

Can you ever fully transfer a non-transferable ticket?

No, virtually all major airlines expressly forbid transferring non-transferable plane tickets from the original ticketed flyer to another passenger.

What about partially transferring ticket value?

Sometimes – airlines may allow you to cancel a nontransferable ticket and redeposit the dollar amount into a travel credit usable on a new flight for someone else. Restrictions apply though on expiration dates, eligible flights, etc so confirm policies.

Can I transfer a United Airlines ticket to any random person?

No – even in the limited cases where name changes are allowed, transfers are usually only permitted to immediate family members if not the original passenger. Transfers cannot happen to unrelated third parties.

Do group or family flight bookings have different policies?

Yes, some airlines like United are slightly more flexible for group travelers. The primary ticket holder may be able to change the name for just a single passenger on shared reservations or flights. This is not guaranteed however.

What steps provide the best shot at getting an airline ticket successfully transferred?

You’ll have the best likelihood following these guidelines:

  • Purchase fully refundable fares allowing cancellations/changes
  • Make all transfer requests immediately, never right before departure
  • Have extensive documentation justifying reasons
  • Call airline agents directly, don’t rely on online changes
  • Emphasize family emergencies as a motivator for the transfer


United Airlines ticket transfers between passengers remains extremely restricted, with narrow exceptions that still require standard name change fees. But alternate options exist like cancelling flights within 24 hours or applying future travel credits onto new tickets in other names.

Understanding situations where limited transfers are permitted and navigating cancellation provisions provides more flexibility for changing plans when United tickets need to switch ownership in special circumstances.

While not always possible, recognizing cases where transfers could be allowed and confirming precise next steps to take with the airline may just let you successfully transfer a ticket when serious needs arise!

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