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Old May 7, 13, 2:08 pm   #1
 
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Why does UA issue online boarding passes for inbound USA flights?

I can almost always print a boarding pass online when returning to the US, despite the fact that procedures at the airport render the boarding pass useless. Just in the past year at DEL, CDG, SJO, and LHR, I had boarding passes issued online (or in the case of LHR, from an LH agent in DUS), but in each of these cases I was supposed to stand in line at the regular checkin desk to either get some stamp or be questioned by an ICTS rep to get a security sticker.

I think I was even able to get a mobile boarding pass at CDG though I can't recall.

I know better now, but why does United even issue these, or why doesn't it issue a warning that you MUST checkin to get your sticker first? Or am I missing some trick to actually expedite this if I don't have checked luggage?

Some times (like in the case of CDG) I want to stand in line so I can get a fast track pass for immigration or security, though last time the checkin took longer than the time I saved.
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Old May 7, 13, 2:46 pm   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by villox View Post
I can almost always print a boarding pass online when returning to the US, despite the fact that procedures at the airport render the boarding pass useless. Just in the past year at DEL, CDG, SJO, and LHR, I had boarding passes issued online (or in the case of LHR, from an LH agent in DUS), but in each of these cases I was supposed to stand in line at the regular checkin desk to either get some stamp or be questioned by an ICTS rep to get a security sticker.

I think I was even able to get a mobile boarding pass at CDG though I can't recall.

I know better now, but why does United even issue these, or why doesn't it issue a warning that you MUST checkin to get your sticker first? Or am I missing some trick to actually expedite this if I don't have checked luggage?

Some times (like in the case of CDG) I want to stand in line so I can get a fast track pass for immigration or security, though last time the checkin took longer than the time I saved.
I'm not sure that I follow you.

Can't you use the boarding pass to enter the secure area and then get the sticker and have the "conversation" with the rent-a-cop faux-security agent at the gate?

If your issue is that you need to wait in line to check your luggage, surely you've flown enough to understand that checking luggage requires standing in line. This is true everywhere except for some US airports that have the skycaps.
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Old May 7, 13, 2:55 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by mitchmu View Post
I'm not sure that I follow you.

Can't you use the boarding pass to enter the secure area and then get the sticker and have the "conversation" with the rent-a-cop faux-security agent at the gate?

If your issue is that you need to wait in line to check your luggage, surely you've flown enough to understand that checking luggage requires standing in line. This is true everywhere except for some US airports that have the skycaps.
No, my issue is that I need to stand in line even though I'm NOT checking luggage.

At LHR, when I went to the First Class Lounge with an already-issued boarding pass, they had to bring me over to the United Counter to have my interview with the ICTS person to get a sticker and get a NEW boarding pass.

in SJO, when I went to the immigration/security check with my boarding pass issued online, he said I was missing a stamp, and I had to go back to the United desk and get a new boarding pass with the stamp, and furthermore the United desk is where they collect your proof that you've paid the departure tax so I guess this is why.

And every time I go to DEL, they always take my online boarding pass (which I print because they won't let you into the airport without some sort of itinerary and this is just easier) and exchange it for a "real" one after the security check, and I have no other way I know of to get the immigration form.

I don't know what would have happened in CDG if I hadn't done the ICTS check before going to security, as I said I wanted the fast track passes.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:00 pm   #4
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Originally Posted by villox View Post
No, my issue is that I need to stand in line even though I'm NOT checking luggage.

At LHR, when I went to the First Class Lounge with an already-issued boarding pass, they had to bring me over to the United Counter to have my interview with the ICTS person to get a sticker and get a NEW boarding pass.

in SJO, when I went to the immigration/security check with my boarding pass issued online, he said I was missing a stamp, and I had to go back to the United desk and get a new boarding pass with the stamp, and furthermore the United desk is where they collect your proof that you've paid the departure tax so I guess this is why.

And every time I go to DEL, they always take my online boarding pass (which I print because they won't let you into the airport without some sort of itinerary and this is just easier) and exchange it for a "real" one after the security check, and I have no other way I know of to get the immigration form.

I don't know what would have happened in CDG if I hadn't done the ICTS check before going to security, as I said I wanted the fast track passes.
But aren't you still better off having the BP than not?

If you have the BP then you can talk the to the faux-security agent, get your precious stamp, and move on. If you don't have the BP, then you have to first get the BP. Furthermore, and more importantly, the check-in process signals to UA your intent to show up, so maybe in an IRROPS situation you'll be treated better than someone who didn't check in.

Incidentally, I can't personally recall a time when I had to deal with this before the gate though I normally check luggage so mostly I'm in queue anyway.

I still don't see your issue. You can choose to print BP or not. Seems that printing it benefits you in a few small ways.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:05 pm   #5
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Or you can OLCI and not print.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:05 pm   #6
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My interpretation (assumption really) is that this is security requirement of some sort. In the US you would need to have someone check your passport prior to leaving on an International flight but don't need a new boarding pass.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:08 pm   #7
 
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Untied flies to 380 destinations in however many countries. They could try and figure out, then keep track of, which departure locations don't really use your online boarding pass, or they can let you print it everywhere and discard it if not needed.

The latter ensures that the most people have it available to use in the most circumstances where it is helpful.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:10 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by mitchmu View Post
But aren't you still better off having the BP than not?

If you have the BP then you can talk the to the faux-security agent, get your precious stamp, and move on. If you don't have the BP, then you have to first get the BP. Furthermore, and more importantly, the check-in process signals to UA your intent to show up, so maybe in an IRROPS situation you'll be treated better than someone who didn't check in.

Incidentally, I can't personally recall a time when I had to deal with this before the gate though I normally check luggage so mostly I'm in queue anyway.

I still don't see your issue. You can choose to print BP or not. Seems that printing it benefits you in a few small ways.
The last thing I want is for United to start issuing a "This is not a boarding pass" even though I'm usually traveling in confirmed business and not waiting for a GPU to clear or something. I agree they should let you check in.

My issue is simply that they are giving the impression that a boarding pass is valid for travel in these situations like it is at other airports, and it's not the case. The only place it really burned me was in SJO because I stood in line at immigration and was rejected back to the UA desk - at LHR the Lounge agent basically took care of me and in CDG I was waiting for a fast track pass anyway.

And no, it doesn't give you any benefit, at least in the circumstances I described at these 4 airports. In each case you do the faux-security check first and then go to the counter to see the agent, and when i presented my online boarding pass they tear it up and give me a printed one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
Untied flies to 380 destinations in however many countries. They could try and figure out, then keep track of, which departure locations don't really use your online boarding pass, or they can let you print it everywhere and discard it if not needed.

The latter ensures that the most people have it available to use in the most circumstances where it is helpful.
If they can keep track of which airports allow mobile boarding pass why can't they keep track of which ones they have to print a warning on it that says "WARNING: MUST CHECK IN WITH CHECKIN COUNTER IN AIRPORT LOBBY" if that is what is required?

Last edited by iluv2fly; May 7, 13 at 3:26 pm. Reason: merge
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Old May 7, 13, 3:15 pm   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by villox View Post
And no, it doesn't give you any benefit, at least in the circumstances I described at these 4 airports.
You may not have perceived a benefit in those situations but I assure you, in the event of IRROPS, you're better off checked-in than not checked-in.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:24 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by mitchmu View Post
You may not have perceived a benefit in those situations but I assure you, in the event of IRROPS, you're better off checked-in than not checked-in.
Again, I agree they should let you check in, and perhaps it's simply an IT limitation that they can't let you checkin but then say "see agent for boarding pass" (we all know "this is not a boarding pass" also means "you are not checked in").

I just think they should either not issue a boarding pass but still check you in, if such a thing is possible, or even better issue one with a warning "You must see agent in lobby" if that is what is required. If they're always going to take it from you, tear it up, and issue a new one, then what's the point of issuing one at all? Waste of paper too, and not like it's trivial to find a printer in every circumstance when you're traveling overseas.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:40 pm   #11
 
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There is an info box (I believe it's a yellow box) on the online BP which provides station-specific information, such as a departure tax needs to be paid first at the ticket counter. It's there, in part I would assume, to prevent what you're experiencing.
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Old May 7, 13, 3:42 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by PropClear View Post
There is an info box (I believe it's a yellow box) on the online BP which provides station-specific information, such as a departure tax needs to be paid first at the ticket counter. It's there, in part I would assume, to prevent what you're experiencing.
I'll have to take a look next time to see if it includes this information. I tend to think of most of that as weather/marketing junk and it doesn't appear when you print and tell it to leave it all off (I don't think).
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Old May 7, 13, 4:14 pm   #13
 
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I just looked at one of my Feb boarding documents from CDG on UA. It says

Quote:
Check in Confirmation Card

Check in has been completed for the following flight(s)

This document does not allow access through security and/or immigration.

This is not a boarding document. Local authorities at one of the airports in your itinerary require that you obtain your boarding pass at the airport.

Please proceed to the airport with this confirmation card, your passport or other valid ID and any other required documents. You can obtain your boarding documents at a United EasyCheck-in kiosk or from a United representative.
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Originally Posted by villox View Post

I know better now, but why does United even issue these, or why doesn't it issue a warning that you MUST checkin to get your sticker first?
But it clearly DOES say that on what I quoted above. If you are complaining about the sticker process itself, complain to your government for imposing that on US-bound, US-operated carriers. While I like flying from CDG, I do anything possible to avoid a US carrier.

Last edited by exbayern; May 7, 13 at 4:22 pm.
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Old May 7, 13, 4:17 pm   #14
 
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Originally Posted by exbayern View Post
When I have to fly UA from CDG, there is a big warning message when I do OLCI which I believe also prints on the boarding pass. It includes verbiage about allowing extra time for the US-bound, US-operated carrier nonsense put in place by the US government.
On my trip from CDG, I actually got a mobile boarding pass through the iPhone app, so I never saw any such thing.
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Old May 7, 13, 4:23 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by villox View Post
On my trip from CDG, I actually got a mobile boarding pass through the iPhone app, so I never saw any such thing.
I edited my post since I found a copy of my most recent boarding document and copied it for you. CDG is one of my 'home' airports.
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