The tale of the ungrateful stepdaugther (aka "What do you mean she doesn't want to go?")

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Ed Chandler, Feb 18, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    ---- edit ----
    It appears that I unnecessarily complicated my original question (below). Here it is again, in simplified form:
    • I have a round-trip United award to Europe for summer 2014 that will no longer be used.
    • I have no United (or matchable) status.
    • Cancel/redeposit fee = $200 and 60,000 miles returned.
    • Cancel, change to HNL-OGG = $100 and 54,000 miles returned.
    Short of a schedule change that allows for a free cancellation, can anyone think of a better option?

    --- original ---
    I saw a story about reduced/eliminated change fees, today only, but on reflection that doesn't look like it applies to my situation, so I'm going to throw it out there so the experts can give me some advice.

    As a Christmas gift, my wife and I decided to plan a trip to Europe with her children (my step-children). So, of course, ... I fiddled around and got exactly the dates and routing we wanted. I even threw in a 23 hour and 40 minute "layover" in Paris. Sweet!

    However, for reasons that I can't help but think include simply galling me as much as possible, my stepdaughter has decided she wants to stay with daddy. :mad: So, ... fine by me ... if she doesn't want to go then making her go anyway would just make the trip suck for everyone. I just need to figure out what to do with her ticket. However, given the change/cancel/redeposit fees, it looks like my generosity isn't going to go unpunished.

    First, some details...

    • It's a coach, round-trip ticket, costing 60k United miles.
    • It's way more than 21 days in the future, so close-in fees aren't an issue.
    • I have no United status.
    • Both children are together on one reservation. My wife and I are on another reservation whose itinerary is identical ... except for an almost-free one-way to Maui several months later. ;)
    The options, as they have been explained to me, are:
    1. Cancel and redeposit the miles for $200. To me, this is equivalent to "buying back" my miles at a rate of $.003 each ... which would ordinarily be a steal ... if they hadn't been mine to begin with.
    2. Change the dates, only, for $75. (This ain't gonna happen, but I'm including it in case there's an angle I'm missing.)
    3. Change the routing and/or dates for $100. (Again, ... not gonna happen, but I might be missing something.)
    4. Pray for a "significant" schedule change that I could use as an excuse for a no-fee cancellation. Unfortunately, it has to be a change that would conceivably only affect 1 of the kids without affecting the other ... or does it? (How "significant" does it have to be?)
    My plan right now is #4 -- hope for a schedule change. I can always cancel/redeposit for $200 right up until we get on the plane, so there's no rush on that.

    Anyway, ... what say the rest of you?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
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  2. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    Personally, I'd go with #1. If there's no schedule change, you just threw away 60,000 miles.
     
  3. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    I think maybe I was unclear ...
    My plan is to start with #4, knowing I can always fall back to #1 at the last minute.
     
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  4. ssullivan
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    ssullivan Gold Member

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    Hmmm, my parents would have gone with Option 5.

    5. Tell me I was going to shut up, stop being an ungrateful jerk, and enjoy the trip I've been given.
     
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Variant of #5:

    Force kid to take trip. Manage to "forget" her during layover in Paris. Teachable moment.

    For schedule change, you might want to split the PNRs of the two kids. If the schedule then changes, you can call in about the one you want to cancel and you don't have to mention that there is another one where you don't mind the schedule change.
     
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  6. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    That's a good idea. Thanks.
     
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  7. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    This may not help you decide what to do here, but it may give you some hope. This sounds like something my daughter would have done. She remained that way - absolutely not one bit of noticeable attitude change - through age 25! I'm her dad, so I loved her anyway, but I really did not like her at all.

    Something happened at 25. Sparing you all the gory details, she is now about to turn 29, and she is my true pride and joy. I'm grateful that I couldn't get anyone to take my bet that she would always be a narcissistic little s**t, as I would have lost. So just hang in there. Miracles do happen. People told me that she would grow up, but I didn't believe them. If my daughter can change, your step daughter most likely will, too.

    Breathe...... ;)
     
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  8. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    Ahhhh, children. No thank you!. Good luck, whatever your decision.
     
  9. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    If she doesn't want the trip and there is no change fee to change names, I'll go. :D
     
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  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Keep in mind that splitting PNR with partner flights may not work. And I'm solidly in the option 5 camp.
     
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  11. UA191

    UA191 Silver Member

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    If you have any airline status, match it to UA and redeposit the miles for free...
     
  12. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    I spruced and lubed my harpoon gun today in anticipation of needing to harpoon a shirt away from someone who had stolen a 30-year anniversary Epcot shirt from me. I ended up not using it, so you're welcome to borrow it and harpoon your stepdaughter into going on this trip.

    Hell hath no fury like a woman harpooned, though. :p

    Or, if you prefer: "We're whalers on the Moon, we carry a harpoon. But there ain't no whales so we tell tall tales and sing our whaling tune."

    Long story short: Tell her to suck it up and enjoy the trip. And get bio-dad in on it if you can, maybe he can talk some sense into her. It's something she is likely to regret if she doesn't do, whether she admits it or not.
     
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  13. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Depending on her age, #5 may or may not work. However, hype and extra attention to pre trip related activities might induce her to change her mind ;)
     
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  14. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Good job tacking on the free Maui segment! Your plan sounds sane, and it has the advantage of leaving the door open should she change her mind. I would not force the matter.

    To help ease your mind, consider the 60K miles as a sunk cost. $.003/mile is a bargain to "replace" them.
     
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  15. dgreen12
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    dgreen12 Silver Member

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    Another alternative might be to lay low and wait to see if she comes around. Probability may be low, but hey, no current out of pocket cost.
     
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  16. Blue Skye
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    Blue Skye Silver Member

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    you didn't mention the kids' ages. just curious as that can definitely shed some light on the "not wanting to go" part. i read an interesting article ages ago about taking a teen on a trip to the grand canyon, and all they did was sit in the car and read. my daughter, then 14, did something similar by looking at the canyon for about 30 seconds, declaring it was a big hole in the ground, and asking when were we leaving. LOL!

    OTOH i've done the whole taking my teens with us on various trips to Austria, Germany, and the grand canyon. while they did eventually have a "good time", (and have fond memories) there were moments when rebellion was immanent. one thing i have learned is to give them choices, and plenty of down time. just b/c you are fascinated by castles, or renaissance art, or geography doesn't mean they will be. try to find an angle to get them interested in something. you never know what will spark an interest in the trip until you ask them why they don't want to go. (for mine it was dealing with a family member who wanted to cram every day full of stuff. we did sort that out to put more of a buffer between them) and, if they want to stay at the hotel while the rest of the family is out sightseeing, then let them. having access to a hotel lounge is very helpful so they won't "starve" while you are gone. your mileage and situation may vary. good luck!
     
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  17. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    Thanks for all of the parenting advice, everyone, but seriously ... she's not going.
    Further advice on fee-avoidance would be appreciated, though.
     
  18. ssullivan
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    ssullivan Gold Member

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    Take the fee out of her savings account?
     
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  19. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    To me, that would seem a bit unfair if she wasn't asked before the ticket was acquired.

    You're lucky that these were award tickets. Otherwise, you'd probably have a bigger change fee and then a UA credit in the step-daughter's name that can't be transferred to someone else.
     
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  20. dayone
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    dayone Silver Member

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    Stick to your 4-then-1 strategy. Maybe you'll get lucky. If you don't, don't sweat this. Forget the emotion and focus on the trip and those who are traveling. If it makes it easier, pretend that she got an ear infection and couldn't fly.
     
  21. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    I agree.

    Luck had nothing to do with it. Dang right I wouldn't have pulled the trigger on a revenue ticket.
     
  22. Max M

    Max M Gold Member

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    If you choose option 1, could she perhaps be docked some allowance money to pay for the $200 redeposit fee?

    If she doesn't do chores for an allowance, now would be a good time for her to learn what earning an allowance is like. [and having to forgo $200 in allowance money] A lesson should be learned by her choosing not to go, even if she was not given notice that y'all are taking a trip. [as choices have consequences]

    If she refuses to do chores for an allowance, then simply tell her as politely as possible she's not going on the Maui trip as well, and she can spend some additional quality time with her dad. [and you'll be on the hook for the fee]
     
  23. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    Why? If I'd asked her before booking, then that might be appropriate. While not accepting the gift is ungrateful, penalizing her for not accepting it would be unfair.

    I think you missed that only my wife and I are going to Maui in the first place.
     
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  24. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    With all appreciation, folks, ... seriously, ... enough with the parenting advice.

    Perhaps I should rephrase the question ...
    • I have a round-trip United award to Europe for summer 2014 that will no longer be used.
    • I have no United (or matchable) status.
    • Cancel/redeposit fee = $200 and 60,000 miles returned.
    • Cancel, change to HNL-OGG = $100 and 54,000 miles returned.
    Short of a schedule change that allows for a free cancellation, can anyone think of a better option?
     
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  25. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Given the title of the post, I'm afraid that you're going to attract primarily people who are more interested in the family situation than the mile problem. Like, you know, me. :(

    I have to say, unlike everyone else, I'm with your step-daughter on this. No one likes to be compelled, and that's doubly-so with teenagers and young adults, even leaving aside the added dynamics of a blended family. I know it seems to you like she's turning down a generous gift, but to her, I'm guessing that it feels like someone is making decisions for her without considering her opinion. I was far from a rebellious teenager myself, but once I was old enough to be even minimally independent I definitely remember not reacting well to being presented with a schedule of events that was planned for me without at least the appearance of consultation. I'm mean -- if I told you that I'd planned out a vacation for you to my favorite campground in New Mexico, all expenses paid, would you feel an obligation to take me up on it?

    So, what I'd do is actually apologize to your step-daughter. Tell her that while you thought you were planning something that she'd really enjoy and wanted it to be a surprise you only realized afterwards that she might not be interested in visiting Europe and that in any event she deserves to be consulted on family issues like vacations. Let her know that you're working to get the ticket refunded but that that might take a while and, in the meantime, if she decides she might like to come after all it would make you happy (you can cross your fingers behind your back, if necessary) but, in any event, you're sorry if you caused any offense.

    I doubt she'll change her mind but at least you'd be giving her the space to do so in a face-saving manner. That would solve your problem right there. Otherwise, it's hard to imagine a schedule change significant enough to convince someone at the airline that one minor -- but no one else -- on the reservation needs to cancel.
     

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