HELP! Changing award tickets--I am so mad I could spit!

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Punki, Apr 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Last December I made reservations for Hunki, our son and me to fly to Croatia this summer. At the time we made the reservations there were no first-class tickets FRA/SEA and the agent told me to just go ahead and book the MUC/ORD/FRA and keep calling back to change it because new seats open up all of the time.

    I asked if there would be any charge to change the tickets and they said, "No, as long as you are a 1k when you book the tickets, there will be no charge for changes. I advised that I would not be a 1k after February and wanted to be absolutely certain that there would be no charge if the seats did not become available until later in the year. Again I was assured that as long as I was a 1k when I booked the reservations there would be no charges for changes or cancellations, either for Hunki, for me, or for our son who has no status on United.

    Every week or so I call to see if any seats have opened up and finally last week the agent told me that there would be a $150 charge to change each ticket!!! When I advised what I had been told, they said "That is not in the record." I asked to talk with a supervisor who said that no agent would have told me that. ????? Well an agent did tell me that. She went on to say that she could cancel the reservation without any charge. I told her I needed to talk with Hunki.

    When I called back tonight to cancel the reservation, they told me that they can cancel the reservations for free, but that they would have to charge me $150 per ticket if we wanted our miles back. WHAT??????
    I made these reservations in reliance on the word of the agent that I would not incur any charges for changes or cancellations, and now they are for all intents and purposes accusing me of lying. :mad: :mad: :confused: :(

    What can I do?
     
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  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    What they are telling you now is correct, the benefit of no fee changes applies to you while you are 1K, not based on ticketing as a 1K. Which makes no sense to me, since -- and I haven't verified this recently -- the benefit applies to tickets booked from a 1Ks account even if for someone else (so how would they verify that the person whose miles issued the ticket was still a 1K?). Perhaps someone will correct me on this last piece.

    It's always frustrating when an agent tells you something that isn't true, that you can't rely on an airline's representatives. It happens all the time, rules are complex, and it's little wonder that people hate the airlines. This is just the sort of thing that feeds that.

    There's not a whole lot that you can do which will guarantee success. And anything you might try to do will take time which is something you may not have. You could fight the good fight with supervisors, and in the meantime the seats you want will be gone. And I wouldn't expect in the least that United -- even if they eventually agreed with you on the fees -- will manage to get you Lufthansa seats that are no longer open as awards.

    So I'd say that if the change is worth $150 per person to you to make, make it. And then fight for compensation after your tickets have been re-issued. Be willing to take 3 x $150 e-certs for future travel as well a compromise, IMHO.
     
  3. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Thanks, gleff, I know that now, but I was specifically told that it wouldn't matter is I was still a 1k as long as I was a 1k when I made the reservations. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    But whom do I contact? The Supervisor with whom I spoke said that there is no one else I can talk too.

    Isn't there some sort of Customer Service person who will talk to lowly PremEx MMs?
     
  4. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Others will have better guidance as to the 'who', my initial thoughts are:

    * Email Mileage Plus Service Center http://www.united.com/page/specialpage/0,,2073,00.html

    * Contact Mileage Plus Insider here on Milepoint (longer shot to get a personal reply)

    * Call back and talk to another supervisor. And then call back and talk to another supervisor. Rinse, repeat.

    * Come out to New York for the Randy Petersen Travel Executive Summit on April 29, Jeff Foland - the President of Mileage Plus - will be there. ;)
     
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  5. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    My answer will be of no help to you at all, Punki, but at least it will have the benefit of getting you even more upset.

    In February, as a Delta PM, I made an "M" Fare reservation TLV-ATL., ATL-LAS, LAS-ATL, ATL-TLV. I wanted to upgrade to Biz Elite/FC on each segment. As none of these were connecting flights (they were all stop overs), according to DL's rules each PMU that I had was only good for one segment. I had three PMUs, so I asked that one of the domestic segments be paid for with SkyMiles.

    I also pointed out that on my ATL-TLV segment I would be a lowly Silver. I asked if my PMU would still be valid and was told that as long as I made the reservation when I was still PM that was no problem.

    Then, for the icing on the cake, DL forgot to debit me for the SkyMiles for the one domestic segment. Afraid that they would charge me a PMU for it and leave me without my upgrade back across the pond, I called Customer Service and told a supervisor of the error.

    "Thank you for telling us," she said, "but it was our mistake, so just forget about it. We won't charge you the SkyMiles and you can keep all of your upgrades."
     
  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Not a whole lot beyond what Gary already suggested. A general suggestion for the future, though, would be to double-check all important answers given by loyalty program representatives (this is not specific to UA Mileage Plus) with the wisdom of the crowds here and/or on FT.

    As Gary said, the rules are complex and one of the consequences is that the airline reps often don't know them as well as they should. A fix that we probably wouldn't like would be to simplify them, as it wold likely lead to an elimination of a wole of benefits and loop holes. E.g., if the rule to give 1Ks fee waivers causes too much trouble, they aren't just going to eliminate the fees, they are going to eliminate the waivers.


    Yes, award tickets booked with miles out of a 1K account are changeable/refundable without fee. And they obviously know where the miles came from (since that's where the miles go back to in case of a refund) so I am not sure why you think they (or their computer) couldn't easily verify if that account still has 1K status.
     
  7. Renard
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    Renard Silver Member

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    I certainly hope that UA adopts the CO model of at least fee reductions for levels below 1K. The fact that 1P gets not even a reduction in the fee is a shame.
     
  8. FLYERIL
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    FLYERIL Silver Member

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    This makes me think of the studies I've seen published in newspapers over the years that IRS telehone representatives frequently give incorrect information to those who call in to them and how the taxpayers will be the ones to suffer if an audit occurs, and they relied on the incorrect information. It seems like most years an AP wire story comes out concerning this unfortunate circumstance every year around 4/15.
     
  9. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Thanks, gleff.

    I will try points, 1, 2 and 3. On Apri 29th, however, I will be busy at a very important frequent flyer wedding celebration in Puerto Rico, where I will be flying using AA miles. I hope all of my surprises on that trip will be happy ones.
     
  10. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Sadly, it's too late to switch to Delta. :(
     
  11. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    gleff, how do I find "Mileage Plus Insider"?
     
  12. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    I typed rather carelessly earlier, here on Milepoint there is a member UA Insider.
     
  13. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    I still need to deal with this issue. I read somewhere that the charge for changes will drop to $75.00 sometimes soon. Do you think that that also means the cost for restoring the mileage to a members account will drop.

    Should I wait until that happens before I act? The trip is scheduled for late July.

    I am working on my letter and will post it here for your feedback before I send it.

    For us, the drop in treatment from over a decade as 1ks to lowly Lifetime PremEx Million Milers has been pretty brutal and painful so far. :( :(
     
  14. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Yeah, this stinks. But there really isn't a whole lot you can do besides complaining. It's really just down to he said/she said, so be prepared to take a compromise of certs or miles, if you're lucky to get anything.

    Just as people call back until they get a rep with the answer they like, I think it's also important to call back to double check when you aren't entirely confident in how the rules will be enforced in these gray areas.
     
  15. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    June 15 the change fees drop.. to just $25 for Premier Executives. However the cancel/redeposit fee remains $150.

    http://milepoint.com/forums/forums/united-mileage-plus-including-continental.99/

    The longer you wait the greater the likelihood that the seats you want, that you see now, will no longer be available.
     
  16. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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  17. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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  18. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Yes to the announcement of the fee changes.

    But I summarized the relevant info in my post above. :)
     
  19. riemannroch

    riemannroch Active Member

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    In fact it says:

    "Also starting Jun. 15, we’ll offer Mileage Plus members a flat change fee of $75 for awards issued prior to Jun. 15. The Elite discounts, however, will only apply to awards issued on or after Jun. 15."

    So for these tickets it will presumably be $75/ticket, not $25, in any case.
     
  20. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Just an update. After we changed our tickets, I e-mailed Customer Service and they could not have been any more helpful or nicer about it. An agent called me promptly after receiving my e-mail and the $300 in change fees for Joe and me were refunded almost immediately, and our son's ticket was cancelled and the miles returned to our account at no cost.

    Moreover, the truly lovely customer service agent has taken it upon himself to try to find tickets for our son to fly in August. Definitely above and beyond the call of duty.

    Except for being stuck flying in UA first-class instread of LH, I couldn't be happier with the results. Actually as it turns out, we will be spending a night and day in DC on our way to FRA and making a side trip to visit one of our primary vendors in VA so it is all good. Fortunately, we do fly LH MUC/ORD on our way home, so I will get my treasured caviar and vodka service. :) It's all good.

    As an aside, I checked the caviar and vodka service on the menu at The Russian Tea Room in Manhattan and the prices made me even more appreciative of the service on LH.
     
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  21. ozstamps
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    ozstamps Silver Member

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    The amount they must trouser in these fees each year would terrify us I suspect.
     
  22. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    How else would US airlines make any profit were it not for these fees? They're in the business of making money for their shareholders.
     
  23. sithlord
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    sithlord Silver Member

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    Its never too late.:)
     
  24. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Well, since my revenue flight days are done, I won't do me much good to switch to anything. I do have about 600,000 orphan Delta miles which I will use somewhere along the way.

    Any good suggestions?
     
  25. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    Yes, you can use them to buy me two Biz Elite r/ts from Israel to the States.
     
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