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AA endorses ticket to UA, UA can't find ticket / won't allow boarding

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Old Feb 20, 15, 4:30 am
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AA endorses ticket to UA, UA can't find ticket / won't allow boarding

Now that it is 3am and I am checked into my hotel room in Torrance (closest available room to LAX on short notice), let's see if I can recap today's event, and ask for opinions.

Flying YYZ-LAX-SFO to get home after a business meeting in freezing Toronto. Flight lands at LAX at 9PM, my connection was supposed to be onto 5408 at 10:35PM. I turn my phone on to see a text saying 5408 was canceled, only to find that AA re-booked me on a flight that already left by the time I deplaned at LAX (AA not off to a good start here).

(On a side note, the conspiracy theorist in me always puts his antenna up when they cancel the last flight of the night - sometimes I think they check the loads, and goal seek for a cancellation. They never gave me a reason why it was actually canceled but I digress.)

AA Customer Service rep says not to fear, there is a United flight at 10:30 (flight 462) and she'll call over there and put me (along with eventually about 15 others) on that flight. Hangs up the phone, prints me out the itinerary and tells me how to get to Terminal 7 (through the catacombs of LAX).

I walk over to United, they print me a boarding pass (boarding group 5, seat 37C - whatever, just want to get home), and then tells me the plane is delayed 2 hours and won't board until 12:30AM so sit tight.

Not happy, but hey, those are the breaks. I sit for two hours, at 12:30AM boarding starts. By 12:40AM we get to group 5, I hand the boarding pass and it doesn't scan. Tells me to see the agent, along with 4 other people who were bumped from AA to UA. Some others from the AA flight boarded without incident.

After a few minutes, it gets surreal. Agent says that American reserved us on the flight, but never transferred payment to UA - as such we cant board until they get paid immediately. Now starts a fruitless effort to find anyone over at AA still there (it's now almost 1AM), then the gate agent from United claims to call some "help desk number at AA" and gets no answer.

The senior gate agent walks over and says that the UA crew will time out if the plane doesn't leave momentarily - I remind him that we all had printed United boarding passes with a seat - usually that means you have crossed the t's and dotted the i's right? He says no, the only time it would show up is when it scans and reflects that AA screwed up - he then tells us as a matter of fact "look, I'm not waiting to figure this out for you 5 and potentially sacrificing a plane full of people. This plane is leaving."

Long story short, the plane leaves with us standing at the ticket counter after waiting two hours with what we thought were boarding passes in our pockets. To make matters worse, UA punts the whole problem, and says that since they weren't paid, we are AA's customers and have to get in touch with them to reschedule flights, or get hotel vouchers, etc etc. (it's now past 1AM, there isn't a soul in the airport). Then just basically told us to have a nice night and sorry about it but it's AA's mess.

So I rebooked through the PLT line on a flight this morning, and found a hotel on my own dime and cabbed it over here (LAX hotels all sold out).

A few questions/observations:
1) Anyone ever run into this before?
2) United wanted no part of the hassle; they could have easily boarded us and figured it out with AA first thing this morning - the agent had the nerve to say "Sir, you look like a businessman. Would you ever perform a service before you got paid?" I responded that 95% of businesses operate in that exact manner, they generate an invoice and collect payment after the date. He claimed that AA would have never paid. I reminded him that they are two of the largest airlines in the world, are separated by a freaking hallway, and this is the third time I have been Rule 240'd between airlines in my 15 years of flying, this isn't the first time it ever happened.
3) That being said, at the end of the day, AA dropped the ball here bigtime. UA had the right (albeit some stones to take the hard line at 1AM at deserted LAX) to refuse to fly us and they did so. In terms of compensation, obviously I am going to show up tomorrow with a hotel bill, a food bill, two cab receipts and expect reimbursement. But I think AA could make me whole otherwise, whether it be monetary vouchers, or SWUs or something. I feel like this isn't your usual "hey sorry for the delay, here's 5000 miles" situation.

Sorry for the lengthy email - I am exhausted, wired, and venting all at the same time.

Last edited by JDiver; Dec 5, 16 at 3:33 pm Reason: Restore original post title
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Old Feb 20, 15, 4:51 am
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It's not United's problem - UA has not received no confirmation of payment => no travel
No reason to expect it to allow travel without ticketing having been completed

I wouldn't expect any airline to accept a passenger for travel where the passenger has no valid ticket. Maybe the agent could have worded the example better - company I do work for would not start work on a project without the signing of a agreed statement of work . The issuance of a ticket is an equivalent. The airlines (iirc) will sort out payment between each other later but it is the ticket which is the commitment

Send the receipts to AA and it should reimburse them - I wouldn't be expecting much more from AA other than some miles
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Old Feb 20, 15, 4:51 am
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So sorry for a frustrating day travel. Have been there, unfortunately this is not an unusual occurrence.

However, as per title and description of what happened, this thread belongs to the UA board.

Agree with you: if you have a boarding pass, unless it says "paper ticket needed" (or something similar) on it, and there was no paper ticket, you're good to go.

It's pretty simple, really:
No "payment" = can't get boarding pass.
Have boarding pass = cleared to board.

Maybe someone on the UA board can shed some light on their processes or this particular event.

Oh, and as far as unfounded conspiracies go, cancellation data is public and can be seen on the DOT site and on sites such as www.flightstats.com. Please do let us know if the data shows that "they cancel the last flight of the night" on LAX-SFO.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 9:30 am
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To update: AA this morning (at LAX) standing firm that they did everything right; their reasoning being that I wouldn't have gotten a boarding pass from United if the original ticket wasn't valid. Blaming it on United not wanting to stick around and figure it out that late at night.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 9:42 am
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I'll have to agree with hillrider. They would not have given you a boarding pass with a seat assignment if you weren't ticketed. Sounds to be like UA didn't process the ticket or the GA was an idiot. Definitely keep the boarding pass, receipts for the hotels, and track the inconvenience of being sent home late.

In the end, I think you are due some compensation from both AA and UA. Just keep it polite and processional in the letters and I think they will pay for the time and inconvenience.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 9:46 am
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
It's not United's problem - UA has not received no confirmation of payment => no travel
No reason to expect it to allow travel without ticketing having been completed

I wouldn't expect any airline to accept a passenger for travel where the passenger has no valid ticket. Maybe the agent could have worded the example better - company I do work for would not start work on a project without the signing of a agreed statement of work . The issuance of a ticket is an equivalent. The airlines (iirc) will sort out payment between each other later but it is the ticket which is the commitment

Send the receipts to AA and it should reimburse them - I wouldn't be expecting much more from AA other than some miles
Maybe JonNYC can correct me, but I am 99% sure that there is no "payment" at time of rebooking. If you are being FIM'ed over to another airline, as long as there is a proper ticket associated with it, payment is ultimately done at the end of the time period (usually monthly) through the Airline Clearing House. It's not like AA has a credit card on file with UA and vice versa.

So it was absolutely UA's fault assuming you were ticketed properly by AA onto the UA flight.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 10:00 am
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If the mods feel that this thread belongs in United feel free to move it over there - as you can see by my post count, I read this site a lot more than I write on it. I am just sick of seeing people pass the buck.

The supervisor at LAX thanked me again this morning for escalating it; not only to plead AA's case, but that these things need to be voiced when they happen. Leaving paying passengers (no pun intended) at 1AM with no options is just bad business, especially if it was just a technicality that they didn't want to process at the gate so they could get home.

At this point, I will send correspondence to both airlines - but it seems as if that boarding pass being in my hand for two hours makes United's 'no payment' excuse look fishy. But who knows at this point?

I appreciate the input here, I know there are a lot of posters with intimate knowledge as to how these things actually get processed - I just see a lot of buttons getting pressed on a keyboard and voila a boarding pass emerges.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 10:11 am
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Sorry to hear you got the run around.

I had something like this happen to me many years ago, however it happened at 6PM and I was able to resolve it and get on a flight by 10PM.

Now when AA cancels a flight and books me on another airline, I demand from the AA gate agent that she print a flight coupon showing payment to the other airline.

Last May I had a flight from YUL to ORD cancelled, I had a connecting flight at ORD to DFW and AA put me on Air Canada to ORD. I made sure the flight coupon showing payment was attached to the boarding pass.

Its crappy experiences like this that alert you to ensuring it never happens again.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 10:14 am
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Originally Posted by hillrider View Post
Agree with you: if you have a boarding pass, unless it says "paper ticket needed" (or something similar) on it, and there was no paper ticket, you're good to go.
I agree. To me, boarding pass = all is good to go.

So does United want/need everyone with a boarding pass to approach the GA to confirm payments have been received and the pax can board without issue/concern? I can just see GAs telling everyone to go away and stop asking stupid questions if many people actually did that, but it appears that that is whay this GA expected the pax to do to avoid problems. What a maroon (yes, intentionally misspelled, some will get the reference).
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Old Feb 20, 15, 10:16 am
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Originally Posted by hillrider View Post
So sorry for a frustrating day travel. Have been there, unfortunately this is not an unusual occurrence.

However, as per title and description of what happened, this thread belongs to the UA board.

Agree with you: if you have a boarding pass, unless it says "paper ticket needed" (or something similar) on it, and there was no paper ticket, you're good to go.

It's pretty simple, really:
No "payment" = can't get boarding pass.
Have boarding pass = cleared to board.

Maybe someone on the UA board can shed some light on their processes or this particular event.

Oh, and as far as unfounded conspiracies go, cancellation data is public and can be seen on the DOT site and on sites such as www.flightstats.com. Please do let us know if the data shows that "they cancel the last flight of the night" on LAX-SFO.
I'm with you on this one... do airlines issue boarding passes without a valid corresponding ticket? If they do that would seem to be rather unsafe?
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Old Feb 20, 15, 10:32 am
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FWIW the AAngels at LAX just showed me the entire screen of how it went down. A ticket was issued on United last night with the fare paid.

Seems to be a UA issue - that being said, AAngels mentioned that even if the fare wasn't paid, AA And UA have an agreement in place to move passengers and then settle up later; they were actually horrified that UA would leave people hanging like that especially at that hour. They also reiterated that the boarding pass is the key, as you only can get one with a valid ticket.

Seems like signs are pointing to UA being the main culprit here.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 10:36 am
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Originally Posted by bosman View Post
I agree. To me, boarding pass = all is good to go.

So does United want/need everyone with a boarding pass to approach the GA to confirm payments have been received and the pax can board without issue/concern? I can just see GAs telling everyone to go away and stop asking stupid questions if many people actually did that, but it appears that that is whay this GA expected the pax to do to avoid problems. What a maroon (yes, intentionally misspelled, some will get the reference).
As stated in the OP, the scanning of the BP before boarding is UA's check point, so no need to see the GA. I'm not sure if I'd blame AA more than UA. It was obvious with the number of re-accommodated pax that the intent was there for UA and AA to work out the details after the fact. I'm sure the time of day kept a lot of things from getting done. Contacting both airlines and letting them address the issue is the best, but I suspect they will each point to the other. Expect a couple of rounds needed.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 10:55 am
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If AA claims this is UA's doing, UA has a lurker on the UA forum (UA Insider) that can be helpful over PM to shed some insight into what happened (or at the very least, trigger retraining and/or compensation), maybe try PMing them with your ticket info.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 11:06 am
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Was it confirmed that the boarding pass had a ticket number? Nothing surprises me from UA these days though.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 11:10 am
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Did you get a ticket number from AA? Happened to me once. Got boarding pass for US Air but was still denied boarding. This was after the merger was annouced

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...rebooking.html
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