Incorrect status recognition when flying UA...solutions?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by DeacFlyer1, Jan 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. DeacFlyer1
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    DeacFlyer1 Silver Member

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    I posted about this on the US forum back in the spring of 2011, but thought I'd get the UA forum take as well.

    I am Platinum on US Airways, which also gets me Star Alliance Gold status. I've been Platinum/Star Gold since 2009. I again re-qualified at this level last year, so I have status through February 2013.

    However, whenever I fly on UA and enter my US Dividend Miles number, my UA boarding pass always shows me as "US Silver" and Star Silver. Today for example, I'm flying US from CLT-SFO and then UA from SFO-LAS. When my BP's printed at the airport this morning, my flight on US metal shows me with my US status and Star Gold status. The boarding pass that printed next for my UA leg, with the same FF# enterted, only shows "US Silver" and "Star Silver" status.

    Over the past year, I've flown UA a handful of times, and this is always the case. It's not always a huge deal, but there have been occasions where it's been a problem (I once needed to check two bags on a UA flight, and while Star Gold gets three free checked, Star Silver only gets one, so I was forced to pay for one bag...I've also come close to having to gate check my bag, because my boarding priority is lower than what it would be if I were recognized as Star Gold).

    I've tried talking to numerous US and UA gate agents, ticket counter agents, shown my US Preferred card with my Star Alliance status on it, shown boarding passes with my Star Gold status on it, written customer service at both airlines, and all to no avail. Every UA person I talk to at the airport just says "the computer shows your status as Silver, so that's what it is," and I've never been able to get my status honored.

    Again, I realize it's not an earth-shattering problem in the grand scheme of things, but it's still fairly frustrating. I mean, the fact that UA spits out Star Silver on my BP means I'm entering my number correctly and it's recognizing something, right? So why can't it get it right?

    Is this a problem specific to my number, or is this a more wide-spread technical glitch? Anyone have any creative ideas to try to resolve this (other than crossing your fingers that UA switching to CO's computer system in a few weeks will magically fix the problem, which is what I'm praying for right now!)?
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Are you entering your FF number into the system fresh when you book your tickets or it somehow stored in your profile? If the latter, try to delete and reenter the number in your profile or whatever.
     
  3. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    What does your status show on CO? Since CO computers take over in March perhaps this problem will no longer occur?
     
  4. DeacFlyer1
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    DeacFlyer1 Silver Member

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    I don't have a UA profile, so I don't know where it could be stored...I always just input my US FF# at the time I book the reservation.

    I don't know, they last time I flew on a CO flight was when they were still SkyTeam...
     
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  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    There was an extensive discussion recently about computer reservation systems and global distribution systems that handle passenger info such as PNRs. I think that info about your status is provided to these computers by US, which has the only way of knowing what it is for sure. So, I would start with finding out from US whether this information is transmitted correctly. UA generally does not print the star alliance status of MileagePlus elites on boarding passes, so whatever it puts there on *A elites' BPs likely comes from the *A member's database.

    BTW, it is an "earth-shattering" issue if you do any international travel because your BP showing you as *S would preclude you from using *A lounges, which are accessible to *G elites on international itineraries. You also did not say whether this happens only with UA. What about other *A members?
     
  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Hopefully the *G US card would override the wrong status on the BP as many lounge agents in my experience want/prefer to go see that little Gold logo on the plastic card anyway.
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I don't know about US or CO, but my experience with UA unfortunately is that the OP is unlikely going to find anyone who is willing to listen and take the initiative to get to the root cause of the problem. Maybe the OP is lucky and the problem is actually on UA's side and then goes away with the switch-over to the CO system on 3/3.
     
  8. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Definitely, but just in case the card is lost, you would like for the info to be correct on the BP. Also, it sounds like the OP did not get *G benefits from UA on a few occasions, although I am not sure whether s/he had provided his/her US *G card as evidence of status...

    That is if the problem is limited only to UA, and not present with other *A members. I am curious to know...but it is quite likely a glitch on the US side.
     
  9. DeacFlyer1
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    DeacFlyer1 Silver Member

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    Lounge access is the only benefit that hasn't been a problem (maybe because I've never gone to an actual UA lounge...it's either been the Star Alliance lounge at LHR, or the LH lounge at IAD, and they were much more concerned about my card, which I do have.

    As I said in my original post, my card has meant nothing to UA employees. Showing my card to a UA ticket counter agent didn't allow me to get my second bag free, and showing my card to the gate agents has still resulted in not being allowed to board with Star Gold. Again, the response is, "I don't care what your card says, the computer shows you as Silver, so you're Silver."
     
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  10. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Just a question: when you said you had entered *A lounge in LHR or LH lounge in IAD and they were much more concerned about your card, did you have a US boarding pass that showed you as a *G or did you have another *A carrier's BP? In other words, is your wrong *A status on the BP limited only to UA?

    I sort of understand why having a *G card is not as authoritative as having the computer show you as *G: The info in the computer comes straight from US and cannot be manufactured like a card. I am not suggesting that your is, but it is a point I tried to make during the discussion I had alluded to. This is an issue that US must resolve for you...UA cannot change your status, even if they got it wrong. US needs to get them to change it, and if you are a *G, I would hope that this is something that US should be able to take care of for you.
     
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I can print whatever I want on a piece of paper that happens to look like a UA boarding pass. Fabricating a "valid" UA BP that shows *G status isn't exactly rocket science.

    UA's computers may very well mis-interpret the correct status code (or whatever it is that *A computers exchange) that US' computers send. The problem is that it's highly unlikely that the OP will ever find or get access to any human being at either UA or US who will care enough to take the initiative to get to the bottom of this. I have tried (for another bug) and all I got was non-sense answers and higher blood pressure.

    My suggestion: wait until 3/3 and see if the problem fixes itself. You could test this now actually by buying a refundable ticket that uses CO instead of UA. If it doesn't, try to find others here and on FT, band together and bombard UA Insider with requests to investigate this (even if it requires a fix on US' side, UA is the one denying promised benefits. If there is a US representative somewhere, do the same via that channel).
     
  12. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    This presumes that you have a valid reservation, otherwise what good would it do you? Boarding passes get scanned to board a plane or enter a lounge....one that is made up is not likely to be any good if it is not associated with a valid reservation...the bar codes are likely to also be wrong anyway.

    I am happy that as a UA 1K I have gotten responses from CSRs, and when I did not get a response I thought made sense, I usually have requested to speak with a 'supervisor', who generally comes up with an answer that I can trust. I, therefore, do not share the cynicism.

    I understood the suggestion, but the question remains: is this problem only with UA or is it also present with other *A carriers? If it is widespread then waiting until 3/3 will resolve nothing...UA will not alter this situation; ONLY US can because it is their FF program. Bombarding UA insider to investigate a "problem" that US can readily resolve does not seem to like a good way to spend our collective "clout".
     
  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Of course it implies that you have a valid reservation. I think you misunderstood, though. You were saying:

    I sort of understand why having a *G card is not as authoritative as having the computer show you as *G: The info in the computer comes straight from US and cannot be manufactured like a card

    The OP was denied *A Gold early boarding because of what his paper boarding pass said. My suggestion is that a Gate Agent trusting the piece of paper more than the plastic card is silly because I can easily print myself a boarding pass that says anything I want, and it will be "valid" as long as I don't change the bar code, name, seat number etc. If I cared, I could change my boarding pass to read "Global Services" instead of "1K" and the gate agent would kiss my feat as he/she scans my piece of paper ;)

    Now, I am NOT suggesting to the OP to do this. If, for whatever reason, you get caught with a modified BP, even if it shows your correct status, I suspect the trouble would likely not be worth the potential benefit of boarding with *A Gold. My point is merely that trusting what the computer printed over the plastic card is silly.

    Maybe you could help Green Card holders trying to OLCI abroad by getting UA to fix this issue:

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unit...holders-easycheck-online-w-intl-segments.html

    Online Checkin will routinely fail on return flights to the US requesting that the traveler show proof of onward travel to the gate agent. Which, of course, is utter nonsense as US permanent residents, by definition, reside in the US and don't need proof of onward travel *from* the US to be admitted to the US. But try to explain that to UA 1K Voice.

    UA is still denying benefits that are promised to holders of *A Gold cards.
     
  14. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Hand-altering or making up travel documents is more likely to get you in trouble and locked up than to get anyone to kiss your ring.

    The point remains that this is NOT a UA issue. US needs to resolve it, and the way this would happen is for the OP to contact US and ask to speak with a supervisor, as a *G. Most CSRs are useless in that way because they have no decision-making authority; so if it is really important, one must request to speak with a supervisor. It just happened to me minutes ago. I have an expiring SWU that I want to salvage by applying it to a trip I am taking next month (after the expiration date). I just contacted 1K desk. The CSR was not sure if that could be done, so I asked to speak with the supervisor, who requested that I hold the line while she investigated. She came back and said that she has extended the SWU to end of Feb. Great! I went to the CSR and replaced the CR-1 that I had put down with the expiring SWU. Done.

    UA's attitude so far indicates that they do not recognize the OP's benefit because the authoritative information does not support his/her claim. This is between the OP and US.

    For the last time: Does the OP's BP show *G when issued by other *A airlines? It could be that is is a widespread problem that s/he is not aware of because s/he has only flown with UA beside US?...
     
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    As I said myself in my post. The point wasn't that you SHOULD alter the documents, but rather that paper documents aren't any more "unforgeable" than plastic cards, and that it makes little sense to not trust the plastic card proving *G status and instead go with the easily alterable paper boarding pass.

    How are you so sure about this?

    After all, you end your post with this:

    I don't think we know for sure that it's US' fault.

    Here's a related question (not necessarily for you, NYCUA1K):

    Can I claim *G benefits when I don't credit to a *G account? Example: I am a UA 1K, ie *G. (*). Let's say I have 23k miles in my no-status US account and would like to credit an upcoming 2k RDM flight on UA to my US account to bump it up to 25k miles for an award. If I put the US number in my reservation, it presumably will show no status and throw me into boarding group 78.

    Do *A rules require me to credit to my UA account to use the *G benefits? (**)

    (*) Note that I am not asking about 1K-specific benefits such as UDU, but rather *G benefits.

    (**) I realize that I could initially put my UA # into the record, print my boarding pass with 1K designation, then at the airport change the program to credit it. I also know that UA's system can handle two different frequent flyer numbers, one for crediting earned miles and one for status benefits (FQTS and FQTV), but I think that was a unique feature.
     
  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    This is becoming circular so we have to break the loop. I have argued several times that the UA*G on your BP is the authoritative indication of one's status in *A and a debate ensued. The OP's case illustrates this: UA does not care about the plastic thingy. Creating a BP that will pass scrutiny is tough. Having the plastic thingy will not get you anywhere. You will need a BP as well.

    We need to let the OP weigh on this: Is the problem only with UA?

    I am not sure I understand the question and why one would want to do it...The status on your reservation and BP determines your benefit. You could say that you are *G and show the card, but it is the BP that determines your *G benefits. They may relent and let you if the computer shows that you are *G but why take the risk?
     
  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Sorry, I thought the why was obvious: to bump the the US account balance from 23k up to 25k and make it usable for an award.

    That's really the question -- is it documented somewhere that these are the *A rules? (link?) Would LH be within their rights to deny me access to the Senator lounge if I show my UA 1K card and a *A boarding pass that credits to a program other than UA's? (e.g., US to stick with the example above)
     
  18. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Doing a bit of research myself:

    http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/S*UAL/ALLIANCE-PREMIUM_CUSTOMER

    UA AND STAR ALLIANCE CARRIERS RECOGNIZE TWO LEVELS OF PREMIUM CUSTOMERS:
    - STAR GOLD - STAR ALLIANCE DESIGNATOR: 1G - UA MP DESIGNATOR: GS/1K/1P
    - STAR SILVER - STAR ALLIANCE DESIGNATOR: 2S - UA MP DESIGNATOR: 2P/3P
    - PREMIUM STATUS IS RECOGNIZED WHEN PASSENGER TRAVELS ON ANY STAR ALLIANCE CARRIER

    doesn't say anywhere that you're required to credit that flight to your elite program to have your elite status recognized.

    http://www.staralliance.com/en/benefits/lounges/lounge-access-policy/

    Star Alliance Gold Customers Travelling in Any Class: Customers have access to any Star Alliance member carriers' owned lounges with the Star Alliance Gold logo at the entrance.
    • Customer must present proof of Star Alliance Gold level status via a valid frequent flyer program Star Alliance Gold level card or other valid indication of Star Alliance Gold level status
    • Customer must also present a boarding pass for travel on a Star Alliance flight departing from the local airport
     
  19. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Those two lines are key, I think. You need to present proof of your A* status AND BP. You can get into *A lounges with just your BP and passport if your BP has UA*G on it. However, the plastic thingy and a passport without a BP would not get you in. In the OP's case the status card and the BP did not match with respect to his/her status so the BP took precedence...In fact, the letter that UA sent with the status extension stickers pretty much says how they feel about the plastic thingy:
     
  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    The way I read it:

    It just means you have to be on a *A flight that day and from that airport. In other words, a LH *G cannot get into the RCC in DEN when flying on Frontier. it doesn't say that the *A BP has to have your *G number printed on it. The *A Gold card is proof of status.

    Another way to look at it: why would *A even bother with cards if the computer is always right (and if it isn't, overrules the card per the interpretation of UA's employees in the OP's case).
     
  21. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    A distinction without a difference. It is the very definition of the benefit. But the issue was what type of documentation you need. The plastic thingy alone is useless even with a valid ID, whereas the BP with a valid ID (usually a passport), which you must have, always works, except once for me in FRA to get into an LH lounge. I just showed my RCC card and that was it.

    Bingo! That was my argument! You do not need the card. For the longest time I did not have a status card and I got into every lounge almost everywhere, except in FRA where they requested to see the status card but I just used my RCC card... However, you know how anal they can get in FRA. They will ask you 10 times whether you had separated yourself from your luggage or accepted a gift from anyone; or if you have proof that that you are scheduled to fly that day, and this happens when you are in line waiting to get a boarding pass or have already cleared inspection and are waiting to board your plane! They trust no one...
     
  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    In fact, now that I think about it, I can answer my own question:

    I and many others have been using BD *G status to get access to RCCs in the US while traveling domestically on UA. My flights were credited to UA and showed 1K status, and I presented my BD *G card to the agent as proof of *G status (specially, non-UA/US *G status). Never had a problem getting in. No one asked me to credit to BD.

    To me this means that the status on the BP was overruled/augmented by the status benefits granted by the (BD) card.
     
  23. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I don't understand what you are arguing here. That's why I clarified the purpose of the boarding pass as ensuring that you travel that day from that airport on a *A carrier. The question, though, was: does the frequent flyer program on the BP have to match that of your *A Gold card in order to claim the benefits? (look back to my example of crediting to US and using UA *G status).
     
  24. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If the BP does not reflect status but you can demonstrate it in another manner then you still get access. I had to deal with this in MUC the other day because the LH computers don't see into SHARES. So even though my FF# was correctly in the reservation and the status really existed in the computers handling the reservation just presenting that and ID at the lounge would have not granted me access.
     
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  25. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    It is what you are traveling under that determines your status, and the BP will reflect this. The BP happens to do a few things for you. It shows your itinerary to support intl travel, indicates that you have successfully checked in, and shows your *A status authoritatively. The passport proves that you are who you claim to be. The plastic thingy only shows that you are *G, which in of itself does not impart lounge benefit. Importantly, as we see from the OP's case, the plastic thingy must be supported by the info in the *A computers or it is no good...
     

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