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UAs Official Response to HKG Ticketing/IT Error: Redeem @ Correct Amount or Redeposit

UAs Official Response to HKG Ticketing/IT Error: Redeem @ Correct Amount or Redeposit

Old Jul 18, 12, 6:22 am
  #826  
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So who's booked to HKG this weekend? The obvious problem is what to do if UA voids these tickets (even if only temporarily) and you are in transit. It's obviously a long way home from HKG and I think everyone travelling during this uncertain situation needs to at least think of a back-up plan. I assume a one-way revenue ticket home would cost a fortune.

Using other frequent flyer miles for a one-way ticket back would seem to be the best back-up -- IF seats are available. What else could one do?

And, obviously, folks going in the next few days need to consider HKG hotel accomodations. CANCELLABLE hotel deals, of course.

EDIT: If you stay off the nonstops, I see that one-way fares from HKG back to the USA start at about $1000. In the scheme of things, that's not so bad! And think of how many ff miles you'll earn if you have to buy one.

Last edited by iahphx; Jul 18, 12 at 6:29 am Reason: more info
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:22 am
  #827  
 
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Originally Posted by Eryeal View Post
At some point, the quantity does make a difference.
I agree with this. If United does end up honoring the tickets, I'd have no problem with them severely restricting them, such as no name changes (i.e., prevent people from selling their 50+ deals), no date changes, etc.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:24 am
  #828  
 
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
So who's booked to HKG this weekend? The obvious problem is what to do if UA voids these tickets (even if only temporarily) and you are in transit. It's obviously a long way home from HKG and I think everyone travelling during this uncertain situation needs to at least think of a back-up plan. I assume a one-way revenue ticket home would cost a fortune.

Using other frequent flyer miles for a one-way ticket back would seem to be the best back-up -- IF seats are available. What else could one do?

And, obviously, folks going in the next few days need to consider HKG hotel accomodations. CANCELLABLE hotel deals, of course.
Yes that's indeed a very scary thought, especially if you don't have backup miles to use for a ticket back, and don't exactly have a lot of funds.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:25 am
  #829  
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Originally Posted by TravelBeat View Post
The local CBS station in San Francisco, KPIX, piled on to this fiasco.
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/vid...kong-a-glitch/

In general, I have little to zero faith in local television reporters when it comes to doing stories about aviation. This report was absolutely *horrendous.* It fabricated some generalization that the airline's "legions of frequent fliers" were upset by this obvious glitch that United Airlines isn't making good on.

I'm glad UAInsider cleared it up here for us FTers, but the best part of the CBS "news" report was the fact that the reporter never bothered to get the other side of the story from the airline itself!
Missed out on the deal, huh?

It was a 2 minute news story, not a 15 minute documentary.
It presented the facts. UA screwed up and apparently doesn't want to make good on their mistake. Had a couple of interviews and quoted UA's position. Just because it made UA look foolish, you didn't like it. And exactly what is the other side of the story??

That aviation lawyer might be old and opinionated, but he was hilarious and IMO, hit the nail on the head. "Rather than standing up and saying we'll protect our reputation, they have no reputation to protect any more. So they said to consumers... We made a mistake. Tough."

Loved the anchor's lead in as well. "Now UA may have made a sour relationship with frequent fliers even worse."

And BTW, there was no mention of "legions of frequent flyers"
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:32 am
  #830  
 
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Originally Posted by GMUJD06 View Post
I agree with this. If United does end up honoring the tickets, I'd have no problem with them severely restricting them, such as no name changes (i.e., prevent people from selling their 50+ deals), no date changes, etc.
same here. i think united should honor the tickets. and it would be okay if they make the ticket non-changable. no date changes or routing changes etc. that would be a good compromise.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:40 am
  #831  
 
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Originally Posted by murphyUA View Post
You should look up the word "reasonable" ("rational" too if you have time).

Also, like I said in two previous posts. This is the first time this type of error has ever happened (AFAIK). If it happens with any regularity, of course there should be a little DOT love. Heck, the DOT should even step in NOW, but that still doesn't mean these tickets should be honored (in my opinion, at least).
"Reasonable" is already addressed in the mistake fare law. There is no requirement that the mistake fare be "reasonable".

I don't care if it's the first time or not, I am quite scared of any openning of a door that will allow airlines to say that the quoted total price is not really the quoted total price because of something that was displayed somewhere else during the transaction. Delta already implements bad-to-consumer policies under the disguise of "IT errors" that never get fixed which are in truth "features". Airlines tend to try to get away with whatever they can and I'm quite scared to see them playing games trying to find out what's "reasonable".

Originally Posted by flyinghigh77 View Post
same here. i think united should honor the tickets. and it would be okay if they make the ticket non-changable. no date changes or routing changes etc. that would be a good compromise.
+1

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Jul 18, 12 at 7:15 am
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:41 am
  #832  
 
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New Information?

It looks like the USA Today story on this has been updated with some new information:

"Bill Mosley, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, says the department is looking into several complaints it received about the frequent-flier tickets.

Mosley says the new rule would apply to frequent-flier tickets, "particularly when they also entail cash payments."

The rule says that no post-purchase price increase can occur after a customer receives a confirmation of the purchase "even when the fare is a 'mistake.' "
Johnson says United is cooperating with the inquiry and that "we're confident of a fair outcome."
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:44 am
  #833  
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Originally Posted by Eryeal View Post
Yes that's indeed a very scary thought, especially if you don't have backup miles to use for a ticket back, and don't exactly have a lot of funds.
At least there's no visa issue involved with HKG. Can you still get a fast Chinese visa in HKG if you want to cross the border?

Of course, if your Chinese visa is expired (mine is. I think they're still only giving a year), you could go out and get one (is it $160 now?) in "reasonable reliance" on your HKG rez and ask UA to pick up the tab if they cancel your award ticket.

If you'll need one anyway in the next year, it's probably not a bad strategy.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:47 am
  #834  
 
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Originally Posted by CMHFlyerOH View Post
It looks like the USA Today story on this has been updated with some new information:

"Bill Mosley, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, says the department is looking into several complaints it received about the frequent-flier tickets.

Mosley says the new rule would apply to frequent-flier tickets, "particularly when they also entail cash payments."

The rule says that no post-purchase price increase can occur after a customer receives a confirmation of the purchase "even when the fare is a 'mistake.' "
Johnson says United is cooperating with the inquiry and that "we're confident of a fair outcome."
i think, this part was updated 30 min ago: "Johnson says United is cooperating with the inquiry and that "we're confident of a fair outcome."

maybe a good sign...
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:47 am
  #835  
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I booked this deal...
I fully expected that there was about 1% chance I would be enjoying GF to BKK for 8 miles....

That all being said, what triggered this glitch? Was it laziness on the IT department's part (poor coding or something) or was it actually a deliberate act.. I mean; what part of the IT coding allows for 4 mile redemptions? Part of me wonders if something else sinister is going on? Perhaps a disgruntled employee coded this "easter egg" into the system.. it wasn't all flights, just certain flights involving HKG....

FDW
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:47 am
  #836  
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Originally Posted by CMHFlyerOH View Post
It looks like the USA Today story on this has been updated with some new information:

"Bill Mosley, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, says the department is looking into several complaints it received about the frequent-flier tickets.

Mosley says the new rule would apply to frequent-flier tickets, "particularly when they also entail cash payments."

The rule says that no post-purchase price increase can occur after a customer receives a confirmation of the purchase "even when the fare is a 'mistake.' " Johnson says United is cooperating with the inquiry and that "we're confident of a fair outcome."
So much for the "no way these are going to be honored" crowd.

Loved the first part of the story as well.

United says its frequent fliers who got round-trip tickets to Hong Kong for cashing in as few as four miles are out of luck.
Not so fast, says the Transportation Department. A new government rule bans price increases on tickets after they're bought unless government-imposed taxes go up. And that may force United to make good on the frequent-flier deal that the airline says was erroneously offered on its website over the weekend. Possibly having to stick by the deals was just one headache for the world's biggest network airline Tuesday.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:52 am
  #837  
 
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Updated USA Today Article

http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/s...73516/1?csp=tf

Bill Mosley, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, says the department is looking into several complaints it received about the frequent-flier tickets.

Mosley says the new rule would apply to frequent-flier tickets, "particularly when they also entail cash payments."
The rule says that no post-purchase price increase can occur after a customer receives a confirmation of the purchase "even when the fare is a 'mistake.' "

Johnson says United is cooperating with the inquiry and that "we're confident of a fair outcome."


I am guessing that this is the reason United didn't start calling or canceling tickets yet, only another good sign in the correct path of the winding road.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:55 am
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Who gets to decide if an error is really a mistake or if it is just a greedy company trying to fleece customers for a few more dollars? In many ways the companies dug themselves into this hole because there have been so many who have screwed customers in the past. Not necessarily the major airlines but the other travel industry companies that are generally seen as less upstanding.

The current set of rules is skewed quite heavily in favor of the consumer. That is a big change and may be the result of the pendulum swinging too far to compensate for the mess that was prior policies. But that's where we are today.

I still am not willing to call this one a done deal in either direction. I think that the comment from the DoT late yesterday suggesting that they expect to apply the rules to award tickets certainly was a significant move but it isn't over yet.

I think that this is, in the end, the situation we're stuck with. Might it cost UA a few million to deal with the mess? Yup. Might it cost them a few million more to shore up their systems? Yup. Is that the cost of making a mistake? Apparently so.

Not necessarily fair, but when one party holds all the cards all the time the game is definitely not fair. I don't know that the current set of rules is the best balance available, but it is where we are and what we're dealing with.
Excellent points. The DOT regulations are the result of a fairly rigorous notice and comment process (download Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documen...010-0140-0002; see also numerous comments filed in same docket no. DOT-OST-2010-0140-0015). Both consumers/consumer groups, and travel industry players had substantial opportunity to comment on the regulations prior to their finality (and many did so). Interestingly, the NPRM describes the concern with post-purchase price increases as the following:


Currently, the Department allows post-purchase price increases as long
as any term that permits a carrier to increase the price after purchase is included in the conditions of carriage and the consumer receives direct notice of that provision on or with the ticket. [citation omitted]. The Department has found that some sellers of air transportation are abusing this rule by burying provisions purporting to permit them to raise the price in the contract of carriage or conditions of travel and merely providing the consumer a hyperlink to the contract of carriage or conditions of travel. The consumer is unaware of the potential for such increase until well after the purchase is made. Although we have not seen carriers resort to this problematic practice, we have often found this to be the case in the sale of tour packages that include air transportation, where an air tour operator will increase the price of an air tour before travel, ostensibly in order to pass along fuel surcharges or an increase in the price of a seat. Consumers are not made aware of the potential for a price increase at the time of purchase, and therefore are deceived when the increase is imposed and the seller uses the terms of the contract of carriage to justify an additional collection. Moreover, most airlines and tour operators will advertise and sell tickets or packages at a stated price nearly a year in advance of scheduled travel. We are tentatively of the opinion that it is patently unfair for a carrier or tour operator to advertise and sell air transportation at a particular price long before travel, with the caveat that they reserve the right to change the advertised price at any time before travel, and in any amount. The Department feels it is time to ban the practice of post-purchase price increases. The Department invites interested parties to comment on this proposal and on several alternatives. As indicated above, the Department’s primary proposal is an outright ban on postpurchase price increases. One alternative the Department is considering would be to allow postpurchase price increases, but only as long as the seller of air transportation conspicuously discloses to the consumer the potential for such an increase and the maximum amount of the increase, and the consumer affirmatively agrees to the potential for such an increase prior to purchasing the ticket. Another alternative would be to allow post-purchase price increases, with full and adequate disclosure, that the consumer agrees to in advance of purchasing a ticket, but to prohibit price increases within thirty or sixty days of the first flight in a consumer’s itinerary.

(As a quick disclaimer, I have not heavily reviewed the comments and history of this rulemaking, but anybody with a few days and an internet connection can simply go to the docket identified above and do so. I hope that reviewing the rulemaking history here can elevate the discourse).

Given the policy concern expressed above, I am as surprised as anyone else that the rules apply to pretty clear "mistake fares" and apparently "mistake" award tickets (and would be even more surprised that they may apply under the factual circumstances in this case), but I have to assume that DOT considered the extremes and determined that it would rather side with consumers and enforce tickets purchased even in the case of an extreme mistake than allow the travel corporations to avoid liability. I agree with Sbm12 that this is basically a response to the travel corporations holding "all of the cards" for so long. Of course, the travel corporations are not without remedy: they can challenge the regulations in court and/or pursue legislative means to limit DOT's power.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 7:08 am
  #839  
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Originally Posted by flyinghigh77 View Post
i think, this part was updated 30 min ago: "Johnson says United is cooperating with the inquiry and that "we're confident of a fair outcome."

maybe a good sign...
"Fair outcome" for who though?

I do think it's odd that UA hasn't taken any steps to void this tickets after Shannon's post.

BTW, what authority does the DOT have to "negotiate" an "outcome" with UA? I mean, I assume that any solution that resulted in pax flying free to HKG would be more than acceptable to almost all the folks holding these tickets. But if the DOT negotiates something less than that, what legal protection would that actually afford UA?
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Old Jul 18, 12, 7:10 am
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So what do we do? If we have tickets for travel in the next week do we just show up to the airport and travel as we normally would?
I would hate to go to the airport and be told-- sorry but we can't honor this ticket, etc, and have a dilemma.

Do we call UA to reconfirm or something-- but we're attracting more attneinton? Not sure...
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