Involuntary Offload

Old Mar 21, 12, 2:59 pm
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Involuntary Offload

I've often marveled at the stories on FT and from fellow UA seatmates about poor customer service because I've never had much bad luck (or treatment), but yesterday the wonderful ancient/new SHARES involuntarily bumped me from a commuter flight (turboprop) because of weight and balance. Nevermind that I paid literally $800+ for a one-hour flight (OK, maybe I am stupid anyway, but they pretty much have a monopoly on the route) or my 1K status. Apparently when UA decided who to involuntarily offload, my number came up. Five hours later (and another flight where I was given a boarding pass, sat down in my seat and then was told I had to offload because they had miscounted weight and balance on that flight), I finally made a flight. I could have driven faster if they had simply told me there was no seat before they took my $800. They did give me a $400 voucher, though. So I only ended up $400+ lighter in the wallet and without the service they promised.

A FA who saw the second offload commiserated and shared that SHARES has caused such distress that two GAs have had to go to the hospital with nervous breakdowns. Pretty much every flight I have been on since 3/3 (admittedly only about 10) there have been problems. It took 4 GAs yesterday to finally figure out how to get me a seat on the 3rd flight. It's like SHARES is an evil monster guarding the treasure, and GAs have to fight it every time just to pilfer small trinckets for passengers, like seats.

If this is really becoming a daily pattern, I pity us all, pax and GAs alike. Does anyone know the rules for involulntary offloads? Isn't there a priority system based on M+ status or price paid or something?
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by SBFlyerUA View Post
Isn't there a priority system based on M+ status or price paid or something?
There is a system, and fastair has cited it (I can't find the thread). But IIRC status is not a factor.
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:13 pm
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Wait..you were actually bumped off TWO flights? And you only got $400? They should give you $400 for each flight. Write 1K Voice immediately and demand more. Absolutely absurd that an already disserviced person (and a 1K no less) would be bumped twice.
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA1K4EVR View Post
Wait..you were actually bumped off TWO flights? And you only got $400? They should give you $400 for each flight. Write 1K Voice immediately and demand more. Absolutely absurd that an already disserviced person (and a 1K no less) would be bumped twice.
He was probably standby on the second flight?
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA1K4EVR View Post
Wait..you were actually bumped off TWO flights? And you only got $400? They should give you $400 for each flight. Write 1K Voice immediately and demand more. Absolutely absurd that an already disserviced person (and a 1K no less) would be bumped twice.
Sounds to me like he was IDB'ed not VDB'ed, thus the compensation should be much more than $400, no?
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:18 pm
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Originally Posted by jhayes_1780 View Post
There is a system, and fastair has cited it (I can't find the thread). But IIRC status is not a factor.
I was told by two different GAs that check-in time was the primary factor. Take that with the grains of salt necessitated--that's just what I was told.

One of them said that a F pax might get bumped because he/she checked in after a Y pax, and then a Y pax on the upgrade waitlist would get moved up to F. That would be a big if true, though I suspect the GA was passing on incomplete/incorrect info (as am I in repeating her words).

Originally Posted by hobo13 View Post
Sounds to me like he was IDB'ed not VDB'ed, thus the compensation should be much more than $400, no?
Not for weight & balance, and not on a turboprop, unless it was a Q400 (the cutoff is 65 seats IIRC).

Last edited by iluv2fly; Mar 21, 12 at 6:15 pm Reason: merge
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:24 pm
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Was on ORD-HKG on 3/8. Flight was delayed 90 min due to weight issues. They announced they needed to off load some people. Then they announced the names of "the last 8 people boarded from the standby list."
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:26 pm
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I believe that weight and balance bumps on small aircraft are exempt from the IDB rules --
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:29 pm
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escapefromphl is correct, I was standby on the 2nd flight, so that one I more or less understood. Frustrating but part of the normal harassment package of flying.

exerda, I don't think that check-in time had anything to do with it, but who knows as GAs clearly were in over their heads. I checked in online at 7:45 am for a 1:34 pm flight, I have a hard time believing I was the last person to check in. My takeaway is that this is some weird SHARES phenomenon, based on software error or UA just deciding that premiers no longer get priority in situations like this.
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:32 pm
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DOT Link

* If the airline must substitute a smaller plane for the one it originally planned to use, the carrier isn't required to pay people who are bumped as a result. In addition, on flights using aircraft with 30 through 60 passenger seats, compensation is not required if you were bumped due to safety-related aircraft weight or balance constraints.

* The rules do not apply to charter flights, or to scheduled flights operated with planes that hold fewer than 30 passengers.
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Old Mar 22, 12, 5:55 am
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Originally Posted by hellyea View Post
* If the airline must substitute a smaller plane for the one it originally planned to use, the carrier isn't required to pay people who are bumped as a result. In addition, on flights using aircraft with 30 through 60 passenger seats, compensation is not required if you were bumped due to safety-related aircraft weight or balance constraints.
Which basically means that any bumps from these aircraft will always be due to weight or balance constraints.
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Old Mar 22, 12, 6:37 am
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Wow, just wow. I haven't had any air travel in March but I'm about to book a couple of domestic flights for April. I'm actually thinking of booking US instead of UA. At least I'll still get RDM and EQM, but no lifetime miles, which is a factor because I'm pushing 900K there.
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Old Mar 22, 12, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by hellyea View Post
* If the airline must substitute a smaller plane for the one it originally planned to use, the carrier isn't required to pay people who are bumped as a result...

What does "must" mean in this context? Only when it can be shown that a larger plane cannot take off from that airport at that time for some reason beyond the airline's control? What about when they must substitute becuase of an MX and a smaller plane is the only one available? What about when they must substitute for economic reasons because of low bookings on one flight and higher demand on another? What if the two planes are the same size but have a different number of seats? (E.g., 73x).
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Old Mar 22, 12, 8:38 am
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Originally Posted by tarheelnj View Post
[I]*What does "must" mean in this context? Only when it can be shown that a larger plane cannot take off from that airport at that time for some reason beyond the airline's control? What about when they must substitute becuase of an MX and a smaller plane is the only one available? What about when they must substitute for economic reasons because of low bookings on one flight and higher demand on another? What if the two planes are the same size but have a different number of seats? (E.g., 73x).
I followed the DOT link (thanks, very useful!) and went deeper to find the actual rule behind it. It is here:

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text....0.8.7&idno=14

It makes clear that if the airline substitutes for operational or safety reasons, IDB is not in force. "Operational" covers just about reason that an airline would have, even the need to move the bigger plane to another route.

I don't like it, but it's pretty clear that in the case of an equipment downgrade, passengers are at the mercy of the airline.
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Old Mar 22, 12, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by AlanInDC View Post
I'm actually thinking of booking US instead of UA. At least I'll still get RDM and EQM, but no lifetime miles, which is a factor because I'm pushing 900K there.
Not true. All EQM, including those from *A partners, count towards lifetime miles now in the new UAMP. Don't you remember the bump in lifetime miles before end of year?
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