Forced downgrade on an award ticket

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by snfitch, Dec 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. snfitch

    snfitch Active Member

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    Fellow Milepointers -

    I have experienced something this past week that has never happened to me in many years of award traveling and has left me frustrated and I am looking for some advise.

    I was booked on a continental business class award ticket (Anytime miles redemption) from NYC to Hawaii through SFO. I checked in, had my seat and boarding pass and as I was about to board when was called to the desk and told that they have overbooked business class and I was being downgraded to coach as I was the first person on the list of those to be downgraded (I do not have CO status). I refused to board until I spoke to a customer service manager who told me they are entitled to do this and will refund me the mileage difference. The also finally (only after arguing) they granted me a 500 voucher for future travel. Thankfully on the remaining legs of this ticket I was not forced into a downgrade but I was beyond shocked, disappointed, frustrated, etc with Continental and the fact that they did this. I was wondering the following:
    1) Do airlines have the right to force a downgrade on a confirmed ticket even after checking in?
    2) What compensation could I expect and who should I contact with my dissapointment?
    3) What could I have done different to avoid this situation.

    Thanks in advance for your advise.

    Shon
     
  2. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    $500 is the standard Downgrade Compensation on CO for a flight of that length...

    To answer...
    1) Yes they do, Airlines often oversell and they are required to bump Upgrade Customers or these traveling on Reward Tickets before Revenue Customers usually unless someone volunteers.

    2) You got your $500 Compensation which is the norm, if you felt such disservice then contact Customer Relations and they'll throw more money your way but seriously, you got $500+Refund of difference in Miles. I'd suggest you not pursue further...

    3) Nothing you really can do about it, CO did what they were obligated to do and compensated you $500 for the downgrade...so they did everything they are obligated to do per the Contract of Carriage that YOU agreed to when you used your miles to be transported.
     
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  3. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    Just to add:
    It reallys sucks when this happens and feel for snfitch (or anyone else when this happens).
    As Dig/R_1k said, yes the airlines (any) can do this. It happens to passengers that pay F fares too if needed.
    Is there anything you could have different? Not that I know of other then keeping a close eye on the loads, but that is a PIA.
    To try and keep the "glass half full" additude, You got $500, you got miles back, you got UG'ed over the water, AND you got to go to Hawaii;)
    John
     
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  4. gleff
    Original Member

    gleff Co-founder

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    Question .. I haven't paid much attention to this in a long time, I've only been onboard one United flight where someone was downgraded from F at the gate. Back then (several years ago) the priority was paid tickets, award tickets, and then upgrades with each group sorted by status. So a 1K on an upgrade would be downgraded before someone without status who had 'paid' for the seat with miles. Is that no longer the case? The person who was downgraded on my flight was a non-status passenger who had used miles for a confirmed upgrade.
     
  5. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    Be honest, I don't have a clue on the "bad news" pecking order :confused:
    I would think non-staus would be the first to go in the back, but read about paying F 1K's getting the boot too, so not sure???
    John
     
  6. snfitch

    snfitch Active Member

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    Thanks everyone - It seems that I have just been lucky on 20+ award business redemptions in the past. I assume that based on that the situation I was in is rare and I was just unlucky.

    One more follow-up- Since I paid continental anytime miles of 80K each way and they have agreed to credit my account for the difference, are there any thoughts on the award points I should to be refunded? Should I expect 60K (80K anytime - 20K saverpass award for the one way I got downgraded) or 40K (80K anytime - 40K anytime award for the one way I got downgraded) points refunded?

    Thanks again
     
  7. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    Ummm, you haven't got your miles back yet????
    I guess I'm just not use to the CO way, but why not call them and get your miles back now (ask for 60K and see what they say).
    John
     
  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Oh, I think it *is* very rare, compared to the regular overbooking of coach. In fact, I thought F/C doesn't get oversold and the only reason for such downgrades is mistakes somewhere along the way.

    CO seems to regularly not refund your miles if you apply for an upgrade and end up not getting it. And then, if you contact OnePass, in my limited experience it still takes two weeks for a response and the miles to be redeposited.
     
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  9. TravelerRob
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    TravelerRob Silver Member

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    Do you know if the gate agent was soliciting volunteers for the voluntary downgrade? I'm not sure if the airline has to do that or not. The only time I've flown on a flight with an oversold cabin up front was a NW DTW-AMS flight and they asked for one volunteer.

    CO is usually VERY good with inventory management and doesn't oversell the front. I'm very interested to hear how that happened. Maybe the FAM showed up and they didn't expect it so they had to bump someone out.

    -RM
     
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  10. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    Well, thats just not right:eek:
    I'm getting real scared of the stories I hear of CO's SOP...
     
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  11. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    It's more of an IT platform issue, however if you call the OPSC they will manually do it and get your miles back.
     
  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    And how many people forget or don't know and CO ends up collecting tens of thousands of miles for nothing? I do understand they have no motivation to fix this "IT platform issue" other than, uh, provider better customer service and not "steal" miles from their customers.
     
  13. Ygor
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    Ygor Gold Member

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    I wouldn't say this is done with malice. For example, a know glitch on CO was that if you bought an award ticket for someone else with no status, they would "inherit" your status for that award ticket. So if me as a plat buy a ticket for my mom with miles, she would be a Plat for that flight, and would have all elite access privileges (premier access now) such as luggage allowance, check in, boarding, etc.

    CO was aware of this for a while and never fixed it, even though they would have incentive to do so. And this was not a published benefit, but rather an IT glitch they did not bother to fix.
     
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  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Well, okay, I suppose I could apply Hanlon's Razor ;)

    So that still works?
     
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  15. Ygor
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    Ygor Gold Member

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    Not sure. Last time I did was about 4 months ago. AFAIK it does. In fact, at the early days of upgrades on award tickets for chase card holders, I read a couple reports on FT about people who got upgraded on an award ticket who had no status because the account that the miles came from was a plat account with a Chase card.
     
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  16. thegrailer
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    thegrailer Silver Member

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    How about this: If I book bus/first on CO with miles and get downgraded, can I just cancel the flight for a full refund [plus taxes]? My TATLs and/or TPACs at the front of the plane are typically award flights. The only reason for the flight is to sit up front. I'll pay for Y. I won't travel 8 hours on an award in Y. Thoughts?
     
  17. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    You could do this or take the next flight out with a Premium Cabin available, if CO was paying me $500 I'd gladly do it anyways unless it's a 8+ Hour flight I'd ask for the $500+F or C next flight out.
     
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  18. thegrailer
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    thegrailer Silver Member

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    That sounds reasonable.
     
  19. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    The only reason for virtually all my award flights is to get to the destination, and in comfort if I book a premium cabin :) Usually, I don't have the luxury to cancel the trip or flight the next day if it's an overseas trip, even if they were to give me $500.

    But yeah, I wouldn't be thrilled to pay the coach rate for an award, as the value per mile would be significantly reduced. Fortunately it's never happened in all my years of travel. So I am not losing any sleep right now over what I'll do in that case ;)
     
  20. gobluetwo
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    gobluetwo Silver Member

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    Similar situation - purchased an award flight for my wife, but a better schedule popped up not 10 minutes after booking. So I booked another one and requested that the original one be cancelled. Miles hadn't redeposited after a week, so I emailed the OPSC, who redeposited the miles after a couple of days. Shouldn't take that long to redeposit, and it should be automatic.

    So my wife seems to be inheriting my Plat status on our flight to Florida later this week. She's eligible for ELR seating, but I guess it doesn't extend to upgrades? I was upgraded without her and now F is showing full... Oops!
     
  21. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    LOL...Oops is right....
    What are you going to do? ;)
     
  22. gobluetwo
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    gobluetwo Silver Member

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    Good question! I asked the wife if she'd like the upgrade, but she said she didn't want it and that I should just sit up there. Told her I'd sit in back with her, but she said why waste it? She's one of those types who thinks I waste way too much time thinking about status and stuff (probably true) and thinks of air transportation merely as a way to get from point A to a far-away point B.
     
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  23. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    Sounds like I need a futura esposa like yours :p

    Kidding...
     
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  24. Ygor
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    Ygor Gold Member

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    It shouldn't extend to upgrades, but as I said before, there were reports, a while ago, that in your situation, IF you had a Continental Chase card, AND you paid for the taxes with the miles, she would be on the queue for an upgrade.
     
  25. gobluetwo
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    gobluetwo Silver Member

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    So a quick update (and sorry for the threadjack, OP). I called the OP Reward Reservations line to get my wife upgraded for the low, low price of an additional 12,500 miles. Well, the lady upgraded her AND me. Said I was eligible to be upgraded at booking, and then pulled my wife along with me gratis. Don't know if that's the way it was supposed to go, but I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth. And if 12,500 miles gets pulled from my account at some point down the road, fine with me. Woo! ;)
     
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