United Airlines is extending the suspension of both of its India routes until at least September 1st.
First it was the Pakistani airspace closure. Then it was saber-rattling over Iran. Then the Federal Aviation Administration banned flying in Iranian airspace. Now United is suspending its service between Newark and both New Delhi and Mumbai until September.
In an internal memo to employees obtained by Live and Let’s Fly, United outlined the reasons for its closures and how it would handle displaced passengers:
Given current events in the Middle East and the continued closure of Pakistani airspace, we have decided to suspend our service between EWR and BOM (Mumbai) and DEL (New Delhi) in India, resuming on Sept. 1, 2019 (eastbound). General managers of our India stations have remained in close touch with affected employees as we have made our recent service adjustments and are reaching out to update them on these latest changes. Our Flight Operations and Inflight Services Crew Scheduling teams are contacting all pilots and flight attendants who are scheduled to operate these flights.
We are also contacting our customers to update them and assist those who may need to make other travel arrangements, including rebooking on other airlines or offering full refunds. Additionally, we will remain in close contact with relevant government authorities throughout the suspension in order to provide our customers with the latest updates and most efficient travel experience under these circumstances.
What To Do If Your Flight Was Cancelled
If you booked your ticket with United and your flight was cancelled, expect to receive an auto-rebooking sometime this week, if not already. You’ll likely be rebooked on Lufthansa via Frankfurt. If the new routing does not work for you or if you are not rebooked at all, call United Reservations (+1.800.United1) to discuss your options. If you need to cancel or change the date, this schedule change is significant enough to do so without fee. A difference in fare may apply if your date change is significant.
You may find yourself in a tricker position if you booked award travel on these now-cancelled flights. Although United will do its best to accommodate you, this is often done at the mercy of available award space. I say often rather than always because there is no published rule on award flight cancellations. Some agents may re-book you on revenue flights. Others may tell you that you are out of luck and say your only option is to redeposit your miles.
Whatever the case, you win more with honey than vinegar. Be nice to agents and they will be nice back.
Hopefully the more serious geopolitical tensions in the region will have cooled down by September 1st. In the meantime, United is not taking any chances and suspending its India service for over two months.