UA Sold Me a Z Fare on AV and Booked Me in Economy

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by KenInEscazu, Jan 25, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Checking in this evening/morning for my flight from DFW-SAL-MDE later today, and I find that my paid Business Class ticket booked last October through UA (online) on AV, confirmed with a paid receipt showing Business, showing online as Business, is booked in Economy on AV. A call to UA that lasted 64 minutes, went through 4 supervisors, the agent could see it should be in Business, but the supervisors all say no.

    They said that I would have to pay an additional $950 to upgrade at this late date. I need to go to sleep, but my hair is on fire. :mad:

    With so little time until my departure and a list of things I must do prior to departure (including sleep), I'm just going to be stuck flying in E, but I'm not done. I'm trying to decide whether I should write to UA first, or just go straight to the DOT.
     
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  2. snod08
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    snod08 Gold Member

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    This is probably related to the issue of UA selling "UP" fares. (e.g, V-UP, M-UP, etc)
    IMO, the "UP" fares should give credit for the higher class (and seating in the higher class).
    In your case, if UA supervisors claim this is "Economy"...then it is "Deceptive Marketing".
    Recently, this issue has cropped up quite frequently.
     
  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If it is all on AV metal then it is not an "up" fare. My understanding is that AV uses Z as an economy class bucket. UA uses it as a business class bucket. So you were sold a Z class fare on AV which is a coach seat but UA displayed business because it doesn't know that AV considers it coach.
    AVZ.JPG

    But there are far too many details missing from the OP's story, including whether it was UA or AV flight numbers as part of the booking.
     
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  4. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    It was AV flight numbers on 016 tickets. I bought it on united.com, and it says "Business" under the Manage Reservations > View Current Reservation screen. It said it when I was booking, and it still says it today.

    Until now, I have always flown AV only on award tickets, so I've never run into this before. If I had known, I would not have booked the flight. I bought it earlier than planned because it looked like a good deal.

    While I am certainly not an inexperienced flyer, I also don't have the detailed knowledge of WA. The agent who was trying to help me on the phone obviously didn't know it, either, as she sounded like she was crying when she came back after an hour of trying to help me get it resolved. She started off adamant that she was going to get it fixed, and went to 4 supervisors before giving up.

    I've got the screen shots that say "Business," but the receipt simply says Z. This is going to be interesting.
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    This is not the first time that the site has had such issues, particularly with partner flights. Ultimately, however, it is the fare basis, not the "translation" to a cabin assignment which is what you actually purchased.
    I think that UA would be smart to give you something in the "make good" context here. Good luck.
     
  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    If UA sells it, they should know what they are selling.

    I don't think the DOT will like this.

    #flyerfriendly
     
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  7. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I made one final attempt this morning by calling and asking for a "manager." That's the next step up from "supervisor." The agent transferred me to the 1K Customer Care desk, which she said is manned by managers, but they are closed until Monday.

    Looks like I'll be roughing it today, but I'll be on the phone Monday morning. It seems that this is an IT issue, so I'm going to give them the opportunity to make it right before taking it to the DOT. While they have clearly misled me, the probability that it was unintentional makes me hesitant to report them before exhausting all other avenues.
     
  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I am sure they weren't intentionally trying to defraud or trick you.

    However, if they don't have an acceptable recovery process, the DOT needs to come down hard on this.

    Dealing with 1K Voice myself right now, it is just amazing how terrible their customer service is for their "best customers". Reading comprehension doesn't seem to be a mandatory job skill.

    In your case I would have expected one of the supervisors to understand the issue and take ownership of it. "Closed til Monday"? Did they stop being a global 7/24 operation?
     
  9. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    When you purchased the ticket were you specifically requesting business class? If so, I find it difficult to believe that this would not fall under the DOT rules concerning honoring tickets sold at the fare specified. If you just did a general search for any fare and noticed a "business class" fare lower than economy I still think the rules ought to apply, but it's not quite so clear. But the first case is crystal clear (to me, anyway :rolleyes:); it's the equivalent of a transaction in which you said "I'd like a business class ticket to MDE", the agent said "Why certainly, sir, our best business class fare is X", and you said "Sold!".
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
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  10. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I'd try to reach a manager at UA before going to the airport. I don't believe that no one with authority is working over the weekend. The attempt to transfer your call to the "managers" [I doubt that agents answering that line are true managers, but they might be more empowered than typical UA agents] on the 1K customer care line could have been a ploy to get rid of you quickly rather than genuinely fix the problem.

    If you fly coach and complain later, UA could just give you a very minor refund of the difference between your fare and what they claim is the coach fare on your flight.

    If you can afford it, I'd pay the "upgrade" fee and then take it to DOT.
     
  11. KVS Tool

    KVS Tool Z Representative

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    Z is the lowest possible Economy Fare on that route, so there would be no difference to refund:

    [KVS Availability Tool 7.3.3/Diamond - Fares/PSH/RU]
    Code:
    DFW  Dallas Metro / Dallas/Fort Worth TX US = DFW DAL [KDFW]
    MDE  Medellin Metro / Jose Marie Cordova CO = MDE EOH [SKRG]
    R/T  01 Feb 2014 | All
    
    Carrier    From    To    Fare      Cur   AdvanceP  Min  Max  Fare Basis | Travel Period
    ---------  ------  ----  --------  ----  --------  ---  ---  --------------------------
    AV         DFW     MDE       531   USD    28 Days        90  ZTA28TGS
    AV         DFW     MDE       550   USD    28 Days        90  ZUA28TGS
    AV         DFW     MDE       590   USD    21 Days    2   90  PTA21UGS
    AV         DFW     MDE       609   USD    21 Days    2   90  PUA21UGS
    AV         DFW     MDE       688   USD    14 Days    2  365  OTA14UIS
    AV         DFW     MDE       738   USD    14 Days    2  365  OUA14UIS
    AV         DFW     MDE       787   USD     7 Days       365  LWA07RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE       787   USD     7 Days       365  LXA07RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE       886   USD        ***       365  KWA00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE       886   USD        ***       365  KXA00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE       984   USD        ***       365  EEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE       994   USD    28 Days       365  DMA28RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1132   USD        ***       365  AEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1280   USD        ***       365  VEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1290   USD        ***       365  DEA00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1428   USD        ***       365  QEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1576   USD        ***       365  HEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1586   USD        ***       365  JEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1724   USD        ***       365  MEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      1872   USD        ***       365  BEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      2019   USD        ***       365  YEO00RIS
    AV         DFW     MDE      2374   USD        ***       365  CEO00RIS
    
     
  12. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I am now in Medellin. I went to the UA counter to speak face to face with a manager before checking in with Avianca. She was very apologetic and sympathetic, but had no power to change a reservation on another carrier. Same advice. "Call Monday."

    The Avianca gang was much more sympathetic. Although they couldn't do anything about the miles earned, they wait-listed me for an upgrade on the first leg. That was a lock. There were only three of us from DFW-SAL. I explained again in SAL with the same results, so I got the upgrade.

    Because I was not booked in Business, I had a 2 bag, 50 lbs. per bag limit. My 3 @ 70 lbs. cost me an additional $180. The extra baggage didn't come with the CPU, and the CPU was purely an act of generosity, as they don't normally offer it to *G in economy. Much less at the lowest economy fare.

    I'll report back Monday after talking to a UA "manager."
     
  13. Rob
    Original Member

    Rob Gold Member

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    Shouldn't that have been 2 @ 50, 1 @ 44 per their "*G in Economy" allowance?
     
  14. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Perhaps that's why they charged only the overweight fee on all three. I was a bit confused on that as well.
     
  15. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Quite right. I think that this unfortunate incident should serve as a cautionary tale, but it is not new and UA made sure they protected themselves because if one goes to each partner's page on the UA website, this is displayed at the bottom of every partner's table of eligible fares. While it applies to miles earned, it is also applicable to potential differences between the fare class purchased on the UA site and that actually flown with the partner, as in this case:
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Based upon what I just posted above, I think that this was a terrible misunderstanding but there is no case. Hopefully, UA can make a nice gesture.
    UA sold you a "Z" fare for ~$550 and change, which is discounted biz on UA, but the lowest possible economy fare on AV for that route.
    Then you found out that the ticket was just Y on AV and asked UA to make it a biz ticket because that is what you thought you'd purchased, but they asked that you pay additional $950. It is clear that they asked for this extra fee because J on AV is the equivalent of Z on UA and it goes for
    Code:
    AV DFW MDE 1586 USD *** 365 JEO00RIS
    
    pretty close to the ~$550 and change + $950 that you would have wound up paying.

    Had you paid $1586 and not gotten to fly in biz on AV, then you might have had a case, but you paid for the lowest Y fare ticket on AV by accident, meaning that there is no case. We all need to be vigilant, and that is the cautionary tale.

    When booking a ticket to fly on any *A carrier, I religiously check the partner's table of eligible fares, simply because I want to make sure that I'd earn PQMs (if it is an award ticket, I like to know that I got the class I redeemed for)...
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
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  17. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    You may be right, but I hope not. As you know, I'm not an inexperienced UA passenger. I have often said that flying UA is like having a second job. If they pull this technicality as an out, this would be a prime example of what I mean.

    For the record, I paid $836.90 for a RT ticket. That was clearly a very good price, and that is precisely why I purchased it so early. I was playing around on their site one evening in October, checking out schedules and prices in preparation for my upcoming move. Knowing that partners aren't always shown on a price search, I used the award search to see more options.

    The AV schedule was really appealing, as they go through SAL instead of requiring two connections, either BOG/IAH or PTY/IAH like UA. When I clicked on the Business award link, it showed that message, "Buy this ticket now for $837." I thought I should buy it while it was available. We all know how prices can change in a heartbeat.

    About a week or so later, I learned that my move was going to be delayed, but I didn't want to change that fare, resulting in a $300 international change fee and a higher fare from DFW-SJO-DFW, so I just decided to come here and fly home today on an award. That's exactly what I'm doing.

    Further, Not only was I unaware of the verbiage you quoted above, but every agent with whom I spoke also thought I had bought a business class ticket. The empathy was very affirming to me, and leads me to believe that they do indeed have an IT glitch that shows the wrong class.

    I'm looking for more than a "nice gesture" for this inconvenience. While I was able to get an UG through the benevolence of the AV agents with whom I dealt, It involved a lot of work plus an unexpected $180 baggage fee. Should they choose to do anything less than reimbursement of the $180, insuring my UG on the return and 100% mileage credit for the entire trip, this will be my last year of 1K status.

    I'll continue to use Copa to get to the USA from Latin America, but my domestic travel will switch to AA. Once I hit 50,000 miles, I'll fly AA for the remainder of the year, including any necessary mileage runs to achieve EXP. That will be my pattern going forward to insure my 3 x 70 bag allowance and two airline options.

    I'm still hoping (and believing) that they will make this right, and I won't make any threats when we speak tomorrow. If I'm wrong, and they elect to point to that page as their reasoning, I won't do them the favor of telling them why I am gone. I'll just make the above described changes and pay the $298 in fees, if necessary, to UG my return at check-in.

    Again, assuming they deny my request, I'll also file the DOT complaint, as I think that would be an unreasonable expectation to require passengers to scour every detail of their site when booking to insure that a reservation means what it says. Before doing anything rash, however, I am going to give them every opportunity to honor the ticket they represented to me. I'm hoping this is just a mental exercise that won't be necessary and that they see it for what it is, a big shortcoming of their online, self-service reservation system.
     
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  18. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

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    Good job protecting your business class seat yourself...

    We went DCA->Cabo->Newark->DCA for thanksgiving for ~$700 in coach, at the time we could have purchased business class DCA->Cabo-DCA for the same price. Give that kind of pricing I would see no reason why a $800 Latin America ticket on a partner would be out of the question. Its clearly false advertising if they see it as business and its not. Don't feel bad about filing a complaint even if they were to do something for you. Its doubtful they would fix this issue due to your complaint to UA, but they might have to fix it if they worry about a nice false advertising fine from the DOT.

    Question - is this type of fare still available?
     
  19. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The reality is that you purchased a "Z" fare. That's all. And that's a discount economy seat on Avianca. Congrats on convincing them to give you an upgrade but I don't really think you have an especially solid claim here. Like I said above, I think the right thing would be for UA to give you something as a make-good, but they probably don't owe you anything.

    Nah...it shows the wrong cabin description for the proper class. And there's no way the UA agents are going to know that other airlines have different fare classes in different cabins. That's why they think it was business class.

    If you mean an $800ish economy fare DFW-MDE, yes. They even have a D fare which is ~$1300 r/t. And going through the UA website right now as an award and then choosing to pay cash I see the Z fare is showing a economy on the choice page:
    DFW-MDE.JPG

    If you click through to that option it is a Z fare and UA says business because the site only knows one way to interpret each fare bucket despite the fact that they may be operated by different airlines with different rules on such things. If you click the Business option on that page it books in to D which is a biz fare on AV.
     
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  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Especially pages that are part of the MileagePlus section and have nothing to do with the basic purchase of a ticket and what class you're going to sit in.

    If it was me, I wouldn't just want my money back for the bags as a precondition of not filing a DOT complaint. I would also want credible assurances that they fix this issue. That, I think, will be much harder to get.

    I am in a somewhat similar situation discussing an IT bug (they show bag fees when they shouldn't) with them that I suspect will result in a DOT complaint.
     
  21. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    So you think it's reasonable for UA agents to not know that Z isn't a business class seat, but when the customer gets tricked by United to think that their ticket is a business class ticket, United owes them nothing? That surprises me. 90% Passengers think in terms of coach, business, first class and have no clue what fare classes are. And they shouldn't have to. And they certainly shouldn't have to know more about it than United's own employees, who get paid to know this stuff.

    United screwed up, they need to fix it.
     
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  22. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    I suspect it's much higher than 90%. Basically, take the entire flying public, subtract one half of the participants on Flyer Talk, and that's your number. Maybe 98 to 99 percent.
     
  23. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I've said several times in this thread that I think UA should do something to make the OP whole. At the same time, I replicated the search process described by the OP and included the screen shot which shows it as an economy fare before clicking through where it then says business. I don't know if that is the same as what the OP saw or not. I do know that's what it shows now. And even if I choose a C award I get the $820ish fare as Y and the $1300ish as C on that page. Plus the Z fare page includes the up-sell box about getting into F on that route, an indicator that you might not actually be buying the premium cabin seat.

    Also, the booking page does include the fine print about the miles earning possibly varying.


    I believe that UA is published some bad info here. But they also published the correct info. It is, in fact a Z fare. The OP and the UA agents erroneously assumed that Z must be business class on AV because it is on UA. Bad assumption. Reading the fare rules clearly indicates that it is an economy class fare:
    Code:
    FARE RULES TEXT
    APPLIES FOR ROUND TRIP JOURNEYS BETWEEN POINTS IN US
    AND AREA 1 FOR ECONOMY FARES
    APPLICATION
    CLASS OF SERVICE
    THESE FARES APPLY FOR ECONOMY CLASS SERVICE.
    This is a case of mixed information. Both parties are, to varying degrees, at fault here IMO. Yes, UA should fix their site, but I'm not entirely sure that they owe the OP much. I think they should do something about it, but I'm not sure they are obligated to.
     
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  24. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    UA is not the only airline that is not set up to automatically recognize the fare class letter designations for other carriers. I was in REP earlier this month and tried to get out of paying extra baggage fee because I was doing REP->BKK in Y on Bangkok Airlines, connecting to do BKK-> HKG in O on TG, which was an award F fare. I wanted the baggage routed straight to HKG. They wanted proof that I would be traveling from BKK to HKG in F so I gave them a printout of my itinerary. The agent saw the O class on the printout and said she had no idea what that was. It was not until she printed out the BP and the cabin was on it that she got the proof that O is first-class on TG. In any case I still had to pay the baggage fee because the fee is waived if one starts out in C or F and connects to travel in Y and not the other way around...

    Until automatic translation of fare class between carriers is implemented, one has to be vigilant. Period.A useful complaint to the DOT would be to have the problem fixed across the board, and not to make amends to the OP...that's up to UA.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
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  25. colpuck
    Original Member

    colpuck Gold Member

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    The appropriate remedy would be for UA to refund the ticket and offer a business class ticket at market price.

    Mutual mistake equals no contract.

    Sent from a reasonably priced car.
     

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