But today, I FINALLY got what I needed and United is apparently changing their stance on this and now I'm getting a FULL refund for the tickets! DC does the happy dance.
So now the trip is completely cancelled and I'm not out anything. Just a lot of disappointment, heartache and several hours of my life I won't get back due to all the phone calls I made.
One good thing? My passport is new and fresh and I won't have to do that again next spring.