Early Gate Control -> IDB?

Old Mar 31, 13, 4:17 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: SFO
Programs: AA ex-EXP, United 1P, SPG Gold
Posts: 7
Early Gate Control -> IDB?

Dear FlyerTalk,

It has been a long time since I have sought the advice of this esteemed group, but today felt like one of those days. Thank you in advance!

A friend and I had a SFO-SJD flight this morning; we arrived at SFO T-70 minutes and saw an agent to check in at T-66 minutes. After quite a bit of process (~10 min) we were told that check-in had closed early and the flight had gone to gate control before we arrived. The flight was oversold and the gate had already given away our seats. Yikes.

We were dumbfounded and had a bit of an argument with the supervisor, telling him 'but we were on time!'. He initially denied that the flight had been closed early and kept saying 'we closed at 60 minutes and you weren't here'. The not-so-nice agent who had in fact closed the flight early waved her highlighter at us and also denied it.

The nice-but-junior-agent that was checking us in was giving us a knowing look but didn't seem willing to stand up for us to her boss. It so happened that a senior agent had seen us arrive and noted the time when we checked in as she knew it was coming up on T-60. I pleaded with her and she went back to the supervisor to tell him the truth. The supervisor then apologized, issued us a meal voucher + $200 courtesy travel vouchers, and "Delay Verification" certificates signed as "Early Gate Control".

All other flights (including AS/US/etc) were oversold today, so we were given the option of a black-eye SFO-IAH-SJD but instead rebooked on the same flight tomorrow, 24 hours later.

I realized on the way home that this situation is essentially the same as an involuntary denied boarding scenario, even though we never made it to the gate - we followed the rules and were told we could not get on the flight due to overbooking. Obviously compensation is much higher in that scenario; from what I've researched it is a $1300 *check* per ticket (given a ~$400 base fare), probably minus the $200 vouchers we've received.

Is this a reasonable ask? What is the best way for me to get in touch with the right person at United for me to ask for this? Snail mail I suppose?

Thanks so much,
Chrix

PS - Extra annoying part: I had secured a mobile boarding pass successfully (which I was told was a bug and it wouldn't have worked due to lack of passport check) but my friend hadn't - the United app told him when he tried to check in online on the drive to SFO that he had to do it in person. We would have shown up earlier if we'd known we couldn't use the mobile boarding passes...
chrix is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 4:53 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: IAD
Programs: UA Plat, Marriott Rewards - LTPP
Posts: 4,228
wow, something is seriously wrong with the CS at SFO. Get in touch with mitchmu, he's been going through a similar experience and already has been in contact with some senior people at UA.
njcommodore is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 4:56 pm
  #3  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 50,270
The UA cutoff for check-in is T-60. If you were indeed at the counter no later than T-60, you were IDB and are entitled to cash (check) compensation and and hotel/food, all depending on the length of the delay. UA should have sent you to the gate where DOT rules require UA to have solicited volunteers before IDB anyone.

You should send in a request via the web. Make it short & sweet. You checked in prior to T-60, were IDB and demand cash compensation + hotel/food. If you don't receive the compensation or an acknowldgement that it's headed your way, file a complaint with DOT.
Often1 is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 6:18 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: NYC
Programs: AA EXP, UA Platinum, Alaksa MVP 75K, Air Berlin Gold, HHonors Diamond, Marriott Gold, Hertz PC
Posts: 2,388
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The UA cutoff for check-in is T-60. If you were indeed at the counter no later than T-60, you were IDB and are entitled to cash (check) compensation and and hotel/food, all depending on the length of the delay. UA should have sent you to the gate where DOT rules require UA to have solicited volunteers before IDB anyone.

You should send in a request via the web. Make it short & sweet. You checked in prior to T-60, were IDB and demand cash compensation + hotel/food. If you don't receive the compensation or an acknowldgement that it's headed your way, file a complaint with DOT.
If the 'customer acknowledgement' form that spits out when compensation vouchers are printed (in this case, the OP's $200 travel certificate) was signed by the OP, then he's lost any recourse to pursue IDB compensation with UA.
weirdlyndon is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 6:36 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: IND
Programs: 1K 2MM
Posts: 215
Originally Posted by weirdlyndon View Post
If the 'customer acknowledgement' form that spits out when compensation vouchers are printed (in this case, the OP's $200 travel certificate) was signed by the OP, then he's lost any recourse to pursue IDB compensation with UA.
I'm not sure about that. The regulations for IDB are pretty precise: http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/250.9. If United did not follow these procedures, and didn't promptly resolve the problem after being contacted, then the PAX should file a complaint with the DOT as Often1 suggests above.
nwff is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 7:13 pm
  #6  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 50,270
Originally Posted by weirdlyndon View Post
If the 'customer acknowledgement' form that spits out when compensation vouchers are printed (in this case, the OP's $200 travel certificate) was signed by the OP, then he's lost any recourse to pursue IDB compensation with UA.
Absolutely not the case. IDB is set forth in DOT rules. There is paperwork which the carrier is required to present to the pax. The pax can certainly accept a voucher, but doesn't waive anything until the entire IDB package is explained.
Often1 is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 7:21 pm
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: SFO
Programs: AA ex-EXP, United 1P, SPG Gold
Posts: 7
Thanks all

I was presented the voucher which seemed to be a courtesy from the check in director but I did not sign anything nor was I presented with IDB paperwork - I don't think it occurred to them (or me) that this was in fact IDB as it usually happens at the gate.

I'll follow up on the web customer service form (DOT seems like a reasonable escalation if that doesn't work) and let y'all know what happens. Thanks as always, the hive mind here is just incredible!
chrix is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 7:31 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 130
Unfortunately, by accepting the $200 voucher, the OP waived his/her rights to cash based on the FAA pronouncement 14CFR250 as linked in nwff's post. However, the UA agents were required to present a copy of the CFR rules at the time of denial. If this did not occur, then UA is in violation of another section of the CFR. I would suggest an email to UA's management explaining the situation and the missing documentation, then request cash compensation under the CFR for an IDB. If they reply in the negative, send a reply informing them you will be filing an official complaint with the FAA if this can not be resolved in the next [fill in time, 30 days?].

That should get them hopping. Also, read the DOT 14CFR250, it is fairly short and straight forward.
Greysword is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 8:04 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SFO
Programs: AA EXP,AS MVPG,MR Platinum,HH Gold
Posts: 1,343
Originally Posted by Greysword View Post
Unfortunately, by accepting the $200 voucher, the OP waived his/her rights to cash based on the FAA pronouncement 14CFR250 as linked in nwff's post. However, the UA agents were required to present a copy of the CFR rules at the time of denial. If this did not occur, then UA is in violation of another section of the CFR. I would suggest an email to UA's management explaining the situation and the missing documentation, then request cash compensation under the CFR for an IDB. If they reply in the negative, send a reply informing them you will be filing an official complaint with the FAA if this can not be resolved in the next [fill in time, 30 days?].

That should get them hopping. Also, read the DOT 14CFR250, it is fairly short and straight forward.
So I was about to post this exact scenario -- right now from my hotel room at YYZ. I got early gate control'd out of a seat. Long story short, they told me the only way they would rebook me that day was if I signed a VDB form. However, I refused all compensation (they offered a $100 travel cert -- haha). It looks like what you guys validated what happened to me, and I plan to take this up with UA (and if they won't budge DoT).

As far as I'm concerned what happened now is that they arranged alternate carriage which will get me to my destination over 9h later -- entitling me to 400% of base fare, in this case almost $900 in real dollars. I'll keep you guys updated on what my signing the VDB form meant given I took no compensation from them. Essentially they were refusing to rebook me until I signed the paperwork.

FWIW I was also not presented with any CFR rules.

Best part? They promised me a hotel at YYZ. Told me to find someone when I got here. Too bad there's nobody to find at 9:00pm Phone rep told me to get my own.

Last edited by arcticbull; Mar 31, 13 at 8:18 pm
arcticbull is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 8:40 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: GA
Programs: VA-PLT, QF-GLD, DL-exDM, UA-ex1K, AA-exPLT, HH-DM, IHG-PLT, MR-GLD
Posts: 7,958
This is an IDB and the critical thing to do is prove you were checking in before T60...

Next time remember the words 'Involuntary Denied Boarding' and repeat until satisfied, refusing to sign anything but a IDB check. If I were you I would go straight to the DOT, but try your luck with UA if you like.

Sorry for what sounds like an awful experience.
CPMaverick is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 8:52 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: IAD
Programs: UA Plat, Marriott Rewards - LTPP
Posts: 4,228
Originally Posted by arcticbull View Post
So I was about to post this exact scenario -- right now from my hotel room at YYZ. I got early gate control'd out of a seat. Long story short, they told me the only way they would rebook me that day was if I signed a VDB form. However, I refused all compensation (they offered a $100 travel cert -- haha). It looks like what you guys validated what happened to me, and I plan to take this up with UA (and if they won't budge DoT).
where did this happen?
njcommodore is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 9:00 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 130
The FAA Consumer Protection Division website can be found:

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/CP_AirlineService.htm

There is a phone number and a web form you can fill in with any concerns you have. I did it a few weeks ago to post a question about IDB months in advance of the flight, and I received a reply a few days after sending the request for a DOT Analyst.

If you are going to the airport to challenge the IDB (still have the flight), you can download the pdf of the 14CFR250 rules to have with you when you need to speak to management.

Good luck, arctic!
Greysword is offline  
Old Mar 31, 13, 9:21 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SFO
Programs: AA EXP,AS MVPG,MR Platinum,HH Gold
Posts: 1,343
Originally Posted by njcommodore View Post
where did this happen?
Short answer: Ottawa (for UA6104 @ 7:28pm)

Longer story: Basically, I checked in online yesterday at T-23.5h (drove out to the middle of nowhere to get some cell service, tethered my phone, and checked in from united.com). Unfortunately it was my first time travelling after getting a new passport so I got the THIS IS NOT A BOARDING PASS PDF emailed to me -- the first time in at least 6mths that it's happened. The first line of the email reassuringly states "thank you for checking in at United.com"

Having done this, not checking bags, I figured I'd show up at my leisure. Anyone departing Ottawa on a Sunday night knows there are more agents working checkins than departing pax, and I have Nexus. So I got there at 6:24pm (64m out), and as the only pax in line at 62m out I was told to wait as the agent spent 5m moving some paper from one side of the desk to the other. I handed her my docs, and she spent some time typing, and at 6:32pm told me it was too late, flight was closed. She reassured me we weren't oversold, but that I was never checked in and it was too late.

I then spoke to UA by phone, and having been offered no assistance, I went back to the desk to speak to what was now a different agent. She informed me that the flight was now oversold by 1, and that they closed the flight out at 6:35pm (obviously incorrect) after adding 2 pax re-accomodated from an AC flight. Most likely what happened was they got a call from AC a few minutes prior to cutoff, not seeing anyone in line, they agreed to take on the extra pax and closed the flight out a few minutes early.

The lady, in conjunction with her manager, told me that they would only offer me a reroute if I signed a VDB form (from land-side before US customs, no less). She offered $100 and hotel accommodations to be sorted out at YYZ. I agreed to the hotel, but declined the cash. I got to YYZ at 9p, 30m after the last scheduled UA flight departed, and the checkins were deserted, of course I phoned the UA people and they told me to get myself sorted and to request refund later.

So here I am at the Sheraton YYZ-T3. Connection is tomorrow at 655am. Let's see what happens

Should I have been there earlier to be safe? Yeah. But I did make it before cutoff. And I followed exactly what was written at each step.

Last edited by arcticbull; Mar 31, 13 at 9:35 pm
arcticbull is offline  
Old Apr 1, 13, 3:13 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
IHG Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Valley of the Sun
Programs: AA PLT, Bonvoy PLT +, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 10,966
Originally Posted by njcommodore View Post
wow, something is seriously wrong with the CS at SFO. Get in touch with mitchmu, he's been going through a similar experience and already has been in contact with some senior people at UA.
I could not agree more with this.... Even if the flight went to gate control early, why did they give up seats so early....
FlightNurse is offline  
Old Apr 1, 13, 7:25 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: New York
Programs: UA GS, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Gold
Posts: 2,305
This thread perfectly illustrates what I was talking about when I mentioned this email from United:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/20460386-post184.html

They are misleading people with OLCI for int'l flights when the passport is not on file!
villox is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: