The United Airlines cancellation policy depends on the type of ticket that was purchased through the airline. When a cancellation needs to be made, travelers might find themselves entitled to a full refund, a partial refund or no money back at all. When you buy your United Airlines ticket, make sure you read and understand the cancellation policy associated with the fare you book.

24-Hour Flexible Booking Policy

United Airlines has a 24-hour flexible booking policy that allows for a full refund of the fare if a ticket is cancelled or changed within 24 hours of booking. For example, if you book a ticket on United at 8 p.m., you have until 8 p.m. the next day to cancel the ticket and get a full refund. Under this policy, you can also make changes to your flights within 24 hours of booking and not pay a change fee.

Refundable Tickets

When you purchase a refundable ticket on United Airlines, you can cancel your flight at any time without paying a penalty. You will get a full refund for the original ticket price. Keep in mind that refundable tickets often cost a lot more than nonrefundable tickets. What you get in return for the higher fare is the peace of mind that you will get your money back if you cancel your flight. Be prepared to wait up to seven days for a refund. According to Frommer's, the U.S. Department of Transportation has a regulation in place requiring airlines to credit you within seven days of receiving an application for a refund.

Nonrefundable Tickets

When you cancel your flight on a nonrefundable United Airlines ticket, you will not get a refund. You can put the cost of your canceled ticket toward a new ticket, but you will be charged a change fee of between $50 and $150, at the time of publication, depending on your destination and the type of change you are making.

In the case of certain unplanned events, such as the death of a traveling companion or an immediate family member, or jury duty, United Airlines will provide a refund. According to its refund policy, an application can be made in those circumstances, and a refund will be issued, minus a processing fee of $50 at the time of publication.

Travel Insurance

When you book a flight on United Airlines, you will have the opportunity to purchase travel insurance. This insurance protects you when you have to change or cancel your trip, and you do not want to lose the money you spent on a plane ticket. As long as your cancellation is for a covered reason, you will be reimbursed by the insurance company. Your travel insurance might also cover the cost of accommodations, medical assistance and additional unexpected travel expenses.