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2014 UA Issued Awards on Air China (CA) Are Mysteriously Being Canceled (Hacked?)

2014 UA Issued Awards on Air China (CA) Are Mysteriously Being Canceled (Hacked?)

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Old May 13, 14, 4:42 am   -   Wikipost
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A number of folks with award flights booked on CA (Air China) found their reservations cancelled. The only notification of cancellation appears to be an email in from UA written in chinese. UA reps confirmed that cancellations were made online and CA award space was no longer available. UA can rebook on other flights when award space is available.

It is plausible that a third party with access to PNR and pax name on the flight can fraudulently cancel an existing itinerary and book the reopened award seat.

Affected FlyerTalk members with links to where in this discussion they posted their experiences include:
  1. MikeMpls
  2. nihaoa
  3. lewende Reported 4 friends with this issue
  4. ordbkk
  5. twebst
  6. kb1992
  7. litesleeper
  8. zombietooth
  9. critten Reported 2/3 confirmations (3 people CA Business class) cancelled at the same time
  10. skyvanman Also 1 friend with the issue
  11. chris1234
  12. atiger29
  13. bubble o bill
  14. genemk2
  15. jefftiger
  16. CuddlyFlyer
  17. gpeso8
  18. imm2b
  19. acf1270
  20. dgxoxo
  21. ACM two passengers
Originally Posted by ordbkk View Post
It seems everybody wants to see the message.. here was mine:
united.com 通知 - 航班预订取消
2014年4月17日 (星期四)
united.com | 优惠促销 | 预订 | 赢取前程万里 (MileagePlus) 奖励里程 | 我的帐户

先生 ORDBKK
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感谢您使用 united.com

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此电子邮件中的信息仅供原接收人使用。
如果您遇到技术问题,请通过电子邮件或电话联系 united.com 服务支持。
通知:机票取消确认
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Originally Posted by ordbkk View Post
For tracking purposes, I went through the 27 pages of this thread and compiled a list of those affected:

MikeMpls
nihaoa
lewende (reported 4 friends with this issue)
ordbkk
twebst
kb1992
litesleeper
zombietooth
critten
skyvanman (also 1 friend with the issue)
jefftiger (but, happened during October 2013)

So we're at 13 people affected, although some like critten have had multiple trips canceled.
From what I understand, all of these occurred in the last 3 weeks.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 11:49 am
  #196  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Originally Posted by GordonGordon View Post
OP, I feel your frustration and sorry to hear that.

People who currently have any award reservations that contain CA flight need to babysit them everyday. If possible, try to change the CA segments to other carriers. I have 2 upcoming award reservations that contains CA flights. I guess I will search for other carriers that flies the same route to or out of China. Sad!
That will be the most sensible thing to do. Protect yourself before things may (or will) happen....
Row3Acer is offline  
Old Apr 18, 14, 11:56 am
  #197  
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Originally Posted by MikeMpls View Post
Received an email today from United -- in Chinese. I don't read Chinese.

Logged into our accounts and found that the itinerary had been canceled, leaving us holding the bag on $1K in nonrefundable domestic Australian flights on Qantas & JetStar, plus some hotel reservations
Has anyone from UA corporate followed up with you on this, or asked for a copy of the e-mail you received? As you posted over two weeks back, looks like you were the first member to alert FTers, and there's been two more threads on the same topic since.
tom911 is offline  
Old Apr 18, 14, 12:03 pm
  #198  
 
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Originally Posted by ordbkk View Post
Whether this is a bug, or a security gap allowing malicious action, United is partially responsible. And when a plane has mechanical issues, they must place me on the next available flight, whether that flight is United or not. Even if United has to pay for it. Why should this be any different? Why should award availability be necessary to make this right?
As this has become a security issue, I am not sure if DOT would be involved in this. One easy way to track down the cancellation is by IP address, but that can easily be done through a proxy server from the fraud department.

OP, did you check the specific AC flight that you had confirmed on? Wasn't sure if you knew the loads, but you might be able to see how well the J/F cabin was sold from EF. My guess would be that since some agencies know they could cancel any tickets on UA.com, then they could easily manipulate the inventory by intentionally cancelling the ticket and selling the seat to their customers. It is also possible that they have access to the award inventory of any Chinese carriers. I feel so glad that I didn't face such terrible experience before.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:07 pm
  #199  
 
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Originally Posted by zhuzheng View Post
However, the fact was that the OP received a Chinese cancellation email from United and UA agents thought the whole reservation was canceled by the OP/passenger, which proved the reservation was actually canceled through United's Chinese website (https://www.united.com/web/zh-CN/default.aspx) by accessing the reservation with the PNR and last name.
Wait... I canceled numerous award reservations in the past but never received any email confirmation from UA that my reservations were canceled. Any FTers who live in China can confirm if an email will be sent to you by UA after award reservation is canceled?
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:08 pm
  #200  
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Originally Posted by Paulakers2010 View Post
As this has become a security issue, I am not sure if DOT would be involved in this.
DOT doesn't have to resolve or even care about the security issue. They just have to compel UA and CA to honor their promises. If UA and CA are cancelling valid award tickets because they are operating insecure confirmation systems, that's their problem to figure out a way to honor their reservations, not the DOT or the passenger's. If UA wants to claim they aren't honoring the awards because they were canceled by the passengers then they will have to demonstrate to the DOT that that's true. And of course they won't be able to do that.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:12 pm
  #201  
 
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Originally Posted by ordbkk View Post
Update: My call with United just ended. The agent (who was patient) and her supervisor feel they have exhausted all of their options with Air China to no avail. They are simply refusing to reinstate my tickets. They are also refusing to convert revenue tickets into award space. And United won't eat the cost of revenue tickets.

The United agent declined to contact ANA and ask for those segments to be reinstated, claiming it was not even worth the call because there was zero chance of cooperation there either.

So at this point, United has given us a mix of first & business seats on United flights, and we are grateful for that. However, due to the timing of the United flights we will require additional time off from work, on top of missing out on experiencing the foreign carriers which was our reason for booking.

Surprisingly, they wanted to charge us the new redemption rates. This took another supervisor escalation and we were granted a one-time reprieve.

At the end of the call, I asked to be transferred to the fraud department and the agent told me it was not necessary because her supervisor just informed her my experience was very common and they are receiving "many, many" calls about this exact same issue and it's something United is well aware of.
I still think a DOT complaint is in order. Particularly since it sounds like this is a known issue, but they are doing nothing to fix it.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:15 pm
  #202  
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Originally Posted by DaviddesJ View Post
If UA and CA are cancelling valid award tickets because they are operating insecure confirmation systems, that's their problem to figure out a way to honor their reservations, not the DOT or the passenger's.
Could that include UA buying revenue tickets for the flyer? I haven't seen that offered as an option on any of the three threads about CA tickets being cancelled. Would UA do that for a UGS flyer with thousands of dollars in prepaid hotels in place, for example, while maybe they wouldn't have much interest in doing it for a non-elite with lots of credit card account miles? I haven't seen anyone here report they've taken a hit on prepaid hotels or prepaid ground bookings yet, but if this keeps up surely someone will be along to report they're out some money.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:22 pm
  #203  
 
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Both, actually.
And you didn't conclude that it was a lot easier to find Saver award inventory (when it exists) and partner inventory on UA than on DL/AA?
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:27 pm
  #204  
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Originally Posted by ordbkk View Post
At the end of the call, I asked to be transferred to the fraud department and the agent told me it was not necessary because her supervisor just informed her my experience was very common and they are receiving "many, many" calls about this exact same issue and it's something United is well aware of.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:55 pm
  #205  
 
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I got two LAX-PEK CA F awards canceled.

Also received cancellation email from UA in Chinese.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 12:59 pm
  #206  
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Were you happy with the alternate flights (or do you have alternate flights in place yet)? UA really needs to step up and post a public statement on this. Maybe they can allocate a special phone number for those that are impacted so they can keep track of it all in one place.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 1:00 pm
  #207  
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
Who already knows those things? Air China. Who has a motive to retrieve J/F inventory to sell at higher prices? Air China. Who comes from a business culture of indifference to consumers? Air.... c'mon, do the math. This probably isn't a "hack," but a brutish form of inventory recapture by CA. The kind of thing UA occasionally does right at the gate when people flying on award tickets are downgraded for FAMs or other reasons.

I don't know what the hell United can do about it, either, beyond breaking open more inventory on alternative own-metal flights to reaccommodate, which it looks like they are not doing.
I also checked the first victim's CA flight information, lots of F and A availability - there is no point for CA to cancel an O seat to free up an F/A space.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 1:11 pm
  #208  
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
Who already knows those things? Air China. Who has a motive to retrieve J/F inventory to sell at higher prices? Air China. Who comes from a business culture of indifference to consumers? Air.... c'mon, do the math. This probably isn't a "hack," but a brutish form of inventory recapture by CA. The kind of thing UA occasionally does right at the gate when people flying on award tickets are downgraded for FAMs or other reasons.

I don't know what the hell United can do about it, either, beyond breaking open more inventory on alternative own-metal flights to reaccommodate, which it looks like they are not doing.
If CA cancelled the reservation on their own, then UA could demand specific performance under their contract with CA. Maybe they would have some challenges with the Chinese legal system, but I doubt it would really get to that stage.

But it sounds more like a UA failure in their own security procedures. If they are allowing reservations to be fake-cancelled with easily available information, then they will have to add more confirmation steps to prevent that in the future. But in that case they can't really make CA give them back the seats, if it was their mistake.
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Old Apr 18, 14, 1:46 pm
  #209  
 
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I have a booking with one CA segment. Knock on wood, it's undisturbed (and the ticket still looks good on the Saudia site).

Originally Posted by DaviddesJ View Post
DOT doesn't have to resolve or even care about the security issue. They just have to compel UA and CA to honor their promises. If UA and CA are cancelling valid award tickets because they are operating insecure confirmation systems, that's their problem to figure out a way to honor their reservations, not the DOT or the passenger's. If UA wants to claim they aren't honoring the awards because they were canceled by the passengers then they will have to demonstrate to the DOT that that's true. And of course they won't be able to do that.
^
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Old Apr 18, 14, 1:47 pm
  #210  
 
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Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
I haven't seen anyone here report they've taken a hit on prepaid hotels or prepaid ground bookings yet, but if this keeps up surely someone will be along to report they're out some money.
We had plenty of plans that would have been lost had United not found award space on their own flights. So we are lucky there. However, rather than departing in the evening hours after work, the flights we are left with leave earlier in the morning so we both must take off additional time from work. That is equivalent to money lost in my eyes.

(There were other options in the evening, but on other carriers. United felt the only solution they could offer us was seats on their own planes)
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