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Error message after payment page on united.com

Error message after payment page on united.com

Old Dec 24, 14, 12:49 am
  #1  
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Error message after payment page on united.com

After selecting all the flights for my YYZ-SIN trip next year, I proceeded to enter my payment info and I got an error message asking me to call united.com support or try later. Anybody can shed some light on this? Is it because I am using a US website to book something orig from Canada?
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Old Dec 24, 14, 1:45 am
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This usually means that at the very last step where United tried to hold then ticket the inventory for your flight, it wasn't actually available.

By any chance did you include a segment on ANA (NH)? That carrier is notorious for having a bad inventory connection to united.com where UA often sees un-bookable cheap flights.

It seems like United's Web site uses a "safe" approach for inventory: when you go to buy a flight, as it shows you various options and prices, it's showing you currently available flights, but only *when you click purchase* does it reserve the inventory and queue it for ticketing.

This is safer than, say, the AA strategy where doing a "dummy search" actually takes seats out of inventory — see some discussion at e.g. http://roadwarriorette.boardingarea....seat-blocking/ where a person who repeatedly checked whether a business-class seat was for sale managed to cause AA to temporarily sell out the flight!!

The pro of the UA approach is you can close your browser and come back and the seat won't be gone (unless someone else bought it).

But the big downside is that if the inventory is out of date (either for UA flights, someone else buys it; or for non-UA flights, the connection with another carrier is poor and they get bad availability data), you'll see this error page. UA will think they can sell you the seat, but once you hit "pay" you will have a bad time as they try to grab the space and their reservations system says "can't grab, it's not available".

Try your booking one more time. Also give it a shot on third-party booking sites like Expedia or Orbitz, where they may do a better job of honoring their quoted prices or showing more up-to-date inventory.

If you really need to use united.com here, and you can't narrow down the problem to a specific "bad inventory" flight (often a single NH sector that doesn't have quite the right fare class), you can call a United reservations agent, or United.com Web support, in order to complete this purchase. They'll help you find options that are really available and help complete ticketing, and if you weren't already a UA elite who gets waived phone booking fees, they would be likely waive the phone booking fee if you give a convincing explanation that the Web sales channel was giving an error.
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Old Dec 24, 14, 1:53 am
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Did you fail to check the box saying you deny trip insurance? I've been snagged by that little money grab a few times,
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Old Dec 24, 14, 8:09 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
But the big downside is that if the inventory is out of date (either for UA flights, someone else buys it; or for non-UA flights, the connection with another carrier is poor and they get bad availability data), you'll see this error page. UA will think they can sell you the seat, but once you hit "pay" you will have a bad time as they try to grab the space and their reservations system says "can't grab, it's not available".
Great explanation. One more nuance to go into -- the website uses ITA to provide search results, but UA's back end is SHARES. So if ITA has the inventory, and the inventory is legitimately there, but it's not available in SHARES (quite common, actually), it will barf.

Another nuance is how SHARES is slow to update flights. I booked a ticket with UA involving an AC flight. The AC flight had moved by about 20 minutes a few days prior to my booking. It showed correctly at united.com (ITA), but wouldn't confirm because SHARES still had the flight at its old time.
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Old Dec 24, 14, 8:14 am
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As mherdeg points out, if some of your flights are operated by other carriers, sometimes those segments need to be confirmed by the operating airline before the ticket can be issued. Best to call United to have them sort it out.
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Old Dec 24, 14, 8:20 am
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Last time I got that message, I called United and found out that my reservation had indeed gone through correctly. Never did get the confirming email though.
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Old Dec 24, 14, 11:34 am
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nope i get in everytime i book on united.com saying my address is too long or address does not match..have to call in everytime..
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Old Dec 24, 14, 12:43 pm
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Similar issue: I successfully booked an itinerary on .bomb (ORD-LHR all on UA metal) about two weeks ago, but when I try to click into the itinerary in Reservations, I receive "ERROR! We were unable to retrieve the latest information for this itinerary."

The itinerary is retrievable on the app, so I am just assuming that it is some sort of back end website glitch, that the reservation is secure, and I plan to simply use the app instead of United.com to manage this particular reservation.
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Old Dec 24, 14, 1:05 pm
  #9  
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The first step, as always, when you get a message asking you to call in is to call in. "It" could be many things, some non-existent or minor and some major.

Here, there may be a zillion explanations for what could have gone wrong, but if you call, you will find out what the problem actually is, what it will take to fix it and if it can be fixed.
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Old Apr 5, 15, 4:12 am
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Unable to complete purchase still an issue

I had the same issue as described in this thread. It was a code shared flight with Air Canada. After putting in the payment info, I received the error message. Tried different browsers. Same issue. I finally called. The agent also had the same issue. Was put on hold for a while. When she returned, she explained that their system had not been updated to reflect the fare on one leg was no longer available. Had to book a different flight for that day. You would think with today's technology available seats would be in real time.
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Old Apr 5, 15, 5:49 am
  #11  
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Had the same thing happen two weeks ago. A simple IAD-LHR r/t that couldn't be booked on line, called 1K desk, and it was quickly booked. Agent couldn't figure out why it got hung up trying to be purchased on line.
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Old Apr 5, 15, 10:01 am
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I've had this happen 90% of the time when changing an award ticket. The final process said it failed, and you get the error message. In reality, the change did go through, United has a lot of bugs in it's "industry best" website.
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Old Apr 5, 15, 11:18 am
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Originally Posted by jaynyc View Post
You would think with today's technology available seats would be in real time.
Nope. What happens when you do a search practically on any site these days is it is bringing up cached availability which is updated only every so often. Only when you select specific flights or in some cases, when you try to pay, does it confirm in real-time. It's also the cause of many of those "the fare for the itinerary you selected has changed" type errors on Orbitz, etc.

There is a method for this - when doing an initial search, it is searching through tons of inventory, and even with today's technology, would take a loooong time to search real-time availability of so many options. Once you've narrowed down the selections, it's a lot faster to search just the real-time inventory on those.

UA.com is actually pretty good at updating its own inventory very quickly for searches. What it's bad at is giving users a specific reason for an error. Instead of the message that a site like Orbitz (above) will give, it just kind of barfs up a generic message for anything that goes wrong anytime.
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Old Apr 5, 15, 12:57 pm
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
What happens when you do a search practically on any site these days is it is bringing up cached availability which is updated only every so often.
What it does, what it should do, and what it's capable of are three different things.
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Old Mar 5, 16, 11:43 am
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I've just found out today that you get a similar error if trying to book a cash ticket with no UA segments!

Was looking at booking a redemption on SN (BRU-EDI) - availability fine, but when offered a decent price for cash instead - tried to pay that, getting the whole way through all stages of payment, only to find that it bombed out with a 'there has been an error' message. Tried fresh non-redemption search and same option - called call centre and told that they're not allowed to sell cash tickets without a UA segment. Would be nice if the website made that clear too rather than returning results!
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