United Took My Seat

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by chafer, Feb 4, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    I'm open to advice, but I have a major problem with United. Here are the facts -

    1. Over a month ago I booked a round trip award ticket for a relative from Saskatoon to Baltimore.
    2. About a week ago I received a schedule change notice for the tickets.
    3. The schedule changed from leaving on a 2:30 pm flight to a 7:10 am flight - about 8 hours earlier.
    4. My relative cannot make a 7:10 am flight due to commitments in Saskatoon. It would also mean arriving at the airport before 6:00 am and she lives over an hour away and has health issues.
    5. I checked United schedules and found that they had actually changed their scheduled flights and there was no longer any United flights that would make the connection to Baltimore that day after 7:10 am. I understand schedule changes, but after ticketing United should try to do something to accommodate a person when they cancel a flight. the flight is in April and there is still time for them to fix things.
    6. I also found out that there is a United partner flight (Air Canada) that leaves at 10:25 am that would work. It's not as good as 2:30 pm, but at least my relative could make that flight.
    7. I called United and figured it wouldn't be a problem to change since United had moved the flight up 8 hours...guess again!
    8. After almost an hour on the phone with an agent and then a United call center supervisor, I was repeatedly told that the only way I could change was to find another flight with award space available - not just space available. Since United cancelled the flight, the doesn't make sense.
    9. In the month since I booked the tickets, award space had dwindled. I am not positive, but I believe that award space was available using United points on the Air Canada flight when I originally booked, but I chose the 2:30 pm flight instead.
    10. Neither the agent nor the supervisor even said that they were sorry or apologized. They simply kept repeating the words "United policy" and tried to make me feel like something was wrong with me for having a problem with the change. Frustrating does not begin to describe the call.
    11. I've had schedule changes on award tickets before with both Delta and American and as long as they changed the schedule, I had no problem picking any flight for the change.
    12. There actually is first class award space on the Air Canada flight, but why should I have to pay more when there is really no benefit to me - it's a relative, not a close relative :)
    13. I'd be fine with United either ticketing the flight in coach on the AC flight or bumping up to the first class award for that one way (either by upgrading or rebating me the extra miles that I have to pay). Why should I give up the flight or have to pay for an upgrade because United decided to change their schedule?
    14. I also tried going on the United Facebook page and posting. They just tried to get me to stop posting then said that one of the social media agents would see the post in the morning and contact me to help. In the morning, the social media agent responded and said the the person the night before had already answered me! Not true. I replied, but they simply stopped responding to me.

    This has made me realize exactly how bad United customer service is and how ludicrous there fly the friendly skies campaign is. Any ideas? this just isn't right.
     
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  2. snod08
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    snod08 Gold Member

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    Very poor form on the social media team...not surprising though.

    Anyways, your choices are:
    Take the earlier UA flight (sounds like not possible)
    Travel on a different day on another UA flight
    If F-class is available on AC, then tell UA that you will pony up extra miles and get that seat. I dont see why that cannot be done if space is available.

    you are S.O.L unless you get a very friendly agent who might be willing to call up AC and ask to release an economy seat............AC does not need to release extra space to UA. However, a good agent will try if you ask.
    These days such "good agents" seem to have left their positions at United.
     
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  3. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    I actually asked about the possibility of asking AC to open up a seat and they refused and acted like I was crazy.
     
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  4. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    What I also find scary is that if they can do this to me, what is to stop them from changing a flight the day before you leave and then telling you that you have to find award space even if you booked it months ago? It's the principle that I find scary and the complete lack of concern or desire to help the person who is put out by United.
     
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  5. snod08
    Original Member

    snod08 Gold Member

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    You can try calling again and again until you meet said "good agent". These days, be warned....they "NOTE YOUR RECORD".....which means, they write something like "chafer keeps calling about this. chafer is not entitled to what they want"

    Yes, welcome to the New "Friendly" United.
     
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  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The contract of carriage which you agreed to when you booked the ticket. Also, the part where they don't really do that.

    The agent is technically correct; they cannot force AC to open award seats for you. But they can ask. You need an agent to request that on your behalf, but it absolutely can be done.
     
  7. Golfingboy
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    Golfingboy Gold Member

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    Or they can buy revenue ticket on AC. But I highly doubt they will do this in this scenario unless they are canceling all flights from the OP's origin.
     
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  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    They can do that but the CoC does not obligate them to do that.
     
  9. avflyer
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    avflyer Silver Member

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    Forget AC opening up anything for UAL. It's those people (AC) that are crazy....
     
  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    With the JV/ATI in place it is not completely crazy that AC could open up the space and more likely than on non-JV/ATI partners. Still no guarantees though.
     
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  11. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    If the actual flight date is within the next couple of weeks or so, I'd be very surprised if AC has any economy seats still available for a reward booking. Most of their award seats (and there's very few per flight) are booked months out, but as mentioned above, if you can find a UA agent willing to make the call they may be able to find a seat as the AC elites are moved up front.
     
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  12. SpecialK
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    SpecialK Gold Member

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    UA put me on AA last month when my first segment of a J award cancelled, resulting in a nasty re-route in Y. I had to call BS when they said the AA flight was full, and read them the open fare buckets from EF (plane was empty). Perhaps I got lucky. I also wasn't exactly the nicest person to them, which I heartily don't recommend. :)
     
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  13. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    One other thing that I forgot to mention is the even if United had actual United flights, the supervisor told me that they would only switch to flights with open award seats. It wasn't just the AC flight to which this applied. They were completely unhelpful.
     
  14. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    And that's when you explain to the agent that they made the change and that they should be more accommodating. Politely, of course, but there is a preponderance of evidence which suggests that the agents can - and, from time to time will - make such things happen for you.

    UA can always make more "award" seats appear on UA-operated flights. Partner-operated is harder, but it can be done in many cases.
     
  15. Sammich

    Sammich Gold Member

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    While some agents will write that, it's actually frowned upon amongst a lot of call centers in North America. The agents themselves can get into trouble. Not saying that there isn't a possibility of happening, but it shouldn't deter you from calling again.
     
  16. Sammich

    Sammich Gold Member

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    If you eventually end up getting nowhere for the agents, you can contact the executive office:

    Make sure to present your issues in chronological order etc. to make a strong complaint.
     
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  17. Golfingboy
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    Golfingboy Gold Member

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    IMHO, if an airline cancels a scheduled flight (dropping service, not talking about IRROPs here) and cannot re accommodate affected passengers on their own metal with something reasonable (gets to the destination and in the same cabin of service within 2 hours or 4 hours depending on type of itinerary) they should accommodate the customer on a partner metal at their expense.

    When making the decision to cancel a flight, they knew this will happen, they knew the monetary damages they will have to incur with canceling the flight, and they still elect to cancel said flight. It is the airline's responsibility and I expect of them to eat the costs to reaccommodate the customers.

    Same is already true the other way around. When I need to cancel a ticketed reservation (whether award or revenue) I know the costs I will have to eat when making a decision (change fees, award re deposit fee, no cash refund, etc). It is my decision and my responsibility when I make such decision and the airline can expect me to swallow the costs of making such decision.

    It is a two way street IMHO, the party responsible for canceling something will eat the costs of doing so. This is why I fully expect airlines to swallow the cost of rebooking me on a different airline if the options on their own metal does not work.

    With that said, I am glad you stood your ground and ensured you got what you were supposed to get :)
     
  18. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    I share your views...
     
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  19. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    Thanks to everyone for all the advice. In the end, United did absolutely nothing and I ended up spending the extra points to rebook the one flight in first class. Worst yet, it isn't even real first class. It's a regional jet and the next leg is a prop plane that only has economy, so I really don't even get anything extra for the extra points. I am going to follow-up with a letter to United - thanks to Sudosandwich for the contact info.

    I think that the worst thing about this situation is the precedent that it sets. Just imagine if it had been an international long haul ticket that was booked months in advance and then they cancelled the flight a few weeks before the trip. Normally, there wouldn't be any options. A couple of months ago I booked my aunt and uncle on a first class award flight from Sydney to Florida. Do I now have to wonder up to the day of their trip in October what happens if United or a partner cancels a flight? There won't be any last minute options on award tickets for flights like that.

    I've actually had the same thing happen with cancellations on both American and Delta in the past. The difference is that they allowed me to rebook on any flight they they flew. In those cases, the time changes were only about an hour and I wouldn't have been too upset if they hadn't allowed rebooking, but they did. In this case they rebooked on a flight eight hours earlier. I didn't realize how truly atrocious United customer service is even compared to American and Delta. It wasn't just the lack of results, but the absolute lack of concern and even courtesy was shocking. Normally, I do everything with United through the web an don't have to deal much with the agents or supervisors...what a wake up call.

    I think I'm going to have to re-evaluate whether to keep my United credit cards as well as the points that I'm racking up with my chase cards (although Hyatt is still a great transfer partner - my wife and I spent time over Christmas in an executive suite at the Vendome on points and it was absolutely stellar). I think I may start charging a lot more on my American credit cards for the miles.

    Thanks again for the advice. It also made me feel like there were at least a few other people who understood the situation.
     
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  20. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    Some amount of customer churn hopefully will help remind service providers that customers generally do have a choice (mostly).
     
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  21. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    Yesterday, I wrote the suggested letter and sent it off. I'll keep everyone posted if I get a reply.
     
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  22. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    Just to keep everyone up to date, more than a month ago I wrote to Anne Seeley as was suggested. A few days later I received a generic post card from United Customer Service acknowledging receipt of my letter...that's it! No other answer. Nothing and it has been five weeks since the letter was sent.

    This just confirms everything that I have come to see recently with United.
     
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  23. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    Uh no... I wrote to UA on Tuesday to compliment my flight crew from last week and got a response less than 24 hours from UA.

    Granted your issue (service recovery) requires some research compared to a compliment.
     
  24. chafer

    chafer Silver Member

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    Finally...something happened...sort of...

    After two months, United finally answered my complaint letter. Not only were they not going to do anything, but they really seemed to blame me! It was a really tacky letter that showed a complete lack of customer service and concern.

    I was angry for about a month or more then decided that I would file a complaint with the DOT. I never expected anything, but I just didn't want to drop it. Three days later I received a confirmation from DOT that they had just sent my complaint to United. Less than 48 hours later, I received a phone call from United that immediately offered me 5,200 miles "as a courtesy." I politely explained that I still wasted 12,500 miles. At the beginning of the call she had first told me that 5,200 miles was the most they could offer, however, she immediately upped the offer to 10,000. I thought that was fair and I agreed. The miles posted the same day.

    Unfortunately, the lesson I learned is that the only way to get United to do the right thing is by complaining to the DOT. Had they done the right thing up front, they never would have had a complaint registered and according the what the DOT told me, that counts against United.

    It was a lot of hassle, but it was worth it not so much for the miles, but for my peace of mind.

    Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions.
     
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  25. Sammich

    Sammich Gold Member

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    Time for UA to get a new slogan....
     
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