**Warning** New Major Problems Booking Copa/*A Award Tickets

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by KenInEscazu, Jul 21, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Here is my new post from TOBB. Thought it would be appreciated by some here, as well:

    I am currently on hold with UA. I started trying to book my ticket for departure this Friday on Copa SJO-PTY-MDE-PTY-SJO, and I have made two reservations, ten charges (for the taxes) pending to my United PC card, four of them still remaining from Friday's attempt, yet my reservation has still not ticketed. In fact, it was not even pending in "Change/View Existing Reservations" when I checked this morning. This despite the convincing reassurance by a UA Premier rep on Friday that it would not happen, as I feared.

    Now the flights I had selected are no longer available. I was scheduled to arrive in time for a late dinner with my GF in Medellin on Friday, but I will now not arrive in time to see her that day. This was previously a process that was point and click and BAM! Done, easy and I could move on.

    By going through this process, I have learned where the problem is. All three agents involved have told me the same thing, so it's quite easy for those of us who frequent UA and these forums to understand: United has outsourced the credit card processing that has always been done internally.

    Since beginning this post over 30 minutes ago, I finally have my seats confirmed AND ticketed, thanks to a very determined agent who finally understood what I was telling her. The schedule stinks, but it's done. Today's phone call took almost one hour, and I have learned how to make this stick in the future IF I get an agent willing to fight for me.

    How to Possibly Get Around This

    First of all, if you get an error on your first attempt to book it online (I got one every time), don't try again. Call in and make the reservation by phone when you have an hour to spare. Make sure that you see another charge pending to your card for the res made over the phone, as you will already have one charge pending from the error online.

    Make sure that you stay logged in to your credit card account while going through the phone reservation. Once you see the second approval pending, insist on staying on the phone while they escalate it internally to their ticketing department. Tell them that you have an approval pending, as this will give them an authorization number. The agent can get a supervisor to call that internal ticketing department and manually force it through, but they will have to look for and find that approval code/authorization number.

    All three agents with whom I spoke were excellent, but this was too new for them to know what to expect. I stayed calm the entire time with each one, and I have no doubt that a resolution wouldn't have otherwise been possible tonight. It looks to them like a failed payment attempt until they dig deeper. Once tonight's agent saw that the payment was in fact approved, that's when she got mad FOR me, and she was determined to make it happen.

    I have nearly 500,000 miles remaining in my account, and the balance continues to rise from my paid flights (mostly on Copa these days) and Chase card charges for my business. Let's just hope that they will be forced to fix this by the cost of labor exceeding whatever savings they realized from outsourcing the processing. Otherwise, I don't know that I will have the time to use all the miles I have. I'm sure there are others here scratching their heads about their failure to book award tix, so I hope that my experience makes it possible to resolve for you, even if extremely time consuming and frustrating.

    Edit: Second sentence should read, "I started last Tuesday trying to book my ticket..." Can't believe that I failed to make that very important timeline reference. ~ Ken
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014
    trobb49, theBOAT, uggboy and 2 others like this.
  2. theBOAT
    Original Member

    theBOAT Silver Member

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    You do realize that you can burn through that balance with one trip with your girlfriend under the new award chart, right? :p

    theBOAT
     
    KenInEscazu and flyforawg like this.
  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If the issue is really that CC processing has changed then it is hard for me to believe it is only affecting CM award bookings. Doesn't pass the sniff test.
     
  4. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I had the same thought, but all three told me the same thing. I think that they outsourced only award ticket processing, and that would pass the sniff test, IMHO. It's pretty obvious that they are making awards harder to us, so.... Who knows? All I know is that I had a great schedule last Tuesday when I started, and I now have an undesirable one only after spending a lot of valuable time on the phone with them about it. :confused:
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Not really likely that they would have different CC processing systems for award v revenue tix.

    Sorry your itinerary got screwed.
     
  6. Trackside

    Trackside Silver Member

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    Having worked on some of these system changes, it almost sounds like poor error handling. CC gets authorised, but the message comes back with something extra or an auth code that wasn't accounted for. Hangs the whole transaction between the systems. I agree with Ken that it doesn't sound completely right, you would revert back to the changes if it was severely affecting bookings. Call centre monitoring would catch the volume and reasoning for the spike.
     
  7. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Sure, though we don't really know where the error is.

    There have been issues in the past where the fare didn't properly store in a record so the CC charge never went through. This could just be that same issue again and not at all related to the CC processor.
     
  8. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Trackside has a point, though. I had this string of authorizations pending on my Chase card. Some of those were from my attempts, and others were from the reps' attempts. Being approved, why wasn't it ticketed, and how could it be the fault of the processor? We certainly know that UA has IT issues, so maybe the agents are being mislead to believe that it's a processor problem, when in fact it's an IT problem.

    We may never know the root cause, but I can tell you that I'm going to be very nervous whenever I have to book an award CM or AV flight on united.com again, and I have many more back and forths to book between Costa Rica and Colombia in the near future. I think I'll just skip the web site and call to book it, letting the agents work it out when they hit the brick wall.
     
  9. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I held my breath tonight as I booked a one way award flight on united.com on AV from MDE-SAL-SJO on 8/17. It went through. Perhaps the last agent who said she was going to report the problem got results. I just hope.

    Thought I should share the good news after sounding the alarm.
     

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