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I can't tell time? TSA Random Audit? No! It's United's Flyer-Friendly Service!

I can't tell time? TSA Random Audit? No! It's United's Flyer-Friendly Service!

Old May 14, 15, 7:19 am
  #1  
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Talking I can't tell time? TSA Random Audit? No! It's United's Flyer-Friendly Service!

So I just had a wonderful experience to share, and figured this was the place to do it. I just wanted to take a minute to tell of my adventure in on-line check-in this morning, and thank United for making my morning bright.

Pardon the snark.

This morning, as a silly proactive traveler like me is wont to do, I attempted to check in for my flight online at T-24, per United's long-standing policy. Since I learned how to tell time in grade school, I did this by subtracting one day from the time and date of departure of my flight (6:57am EDT, May 15 2015) and at that calculated time, clicking on the "check-in" button on United.com.

All things proceeded as they have literally hundreds of times over the past two years, and more or less as I have seen in almost 20 years of on-line checking in. I consider my on-line check in skills rather adept and finely honed. I click my mouse with alacrity, and accept policies like nobody's business.

Alas, at the end of the process, I was informed I could not check in. United.com tersely told me, with no further explanation, to "proceed to the airport."

Well OK then.

Sensing something was amiss, I called the 1K desk. I mean, the Premier line. I mean, the regular customer service line where the computer makes them greet you by name. Anyway, I tried the phone check in. No dice. Hmm. Something is definitely wrong. I asked to speak to a representative.

Marjorie greeted me, and I explained my conundrum to her. Almost before I got my words out, she informed me that this was all my fault. Apparently, I did not understand how time worked. It was now, as she said, "7 o clock", and that my flight was leaving "Around seven", so I had to "give it a little bit more." She then proceeded to explain to me the concept of "24 hours prior to departure" as if I was back in grade school.

Feeling like I had just been shamed by a teacher, I meekly tried again to explain that it was, in fact within the 24 hour window. I let her know that united.com gives a message telling you such if you are outside said window, and that was not the message I was getting. It was letting me go through the process, but not letting me complete it.

Marjorie's response was basically "Well, I never!" and said something along the lines of "I don't know what to tell you. I'll put you over to Web Support."

Ah, Web Support. Those words always instill confidence. Little did I know that Serious Business was around the corner.

I was connected to the nameless Web Support person, who again reprimanded me for my time telling skills. Apparently, at United, "7-ish" is a time that computers go by. It was still "7-ish", so I just apparently am an idiot who randomly clicks buttons with no concept of what I'm doing. I again politely explained the issue, and that it was now coming up on 7:15 "ish", so I believed something was amiss.

I was then put on hold, as the Web Support agent apparently had to shuffle through her "random excuse explanation" Cards Against Humanity deck.

She authoritatively informed me that I was the subject of a "Random TSA Identity Audit".

Sigh.

So, not to brag, but my identity is pretty deeply audited. I have Pre-Check through Global Entry. I hold a TS/SCI clearance. People know who I am, and I don't mean that in a DYKWIA way. I mean it in that my identity is pretty much plastered and spread through every information system on the planet. I do believe I once saw myself listed as Employee of the Month at a Circle K store in Rancho Cucamonga, CA - but I can't be sure.

Surprised and a bit panicked, I asked her where this information was coming from. Was my reservation flagged? When I was on hold did the NSA break into the line and inform her? Was Obama himself in the room, looking sternly at my Mileage Plus account, questioning why anyone would actually buy the Classic Box over the Tapas Box?

No, she said. "We are trained to recognize this situation," she informed me. "Just go to the airport and all will be fine."

"All will be fine." I think I heard those words before my last prostate exam, when my ex-girlfriend went out bar-hopping with a "platonic" friend, and when I took my car to the garage for a slight whirring noise from the engine compartment. In all instances, all was definitely not fine, but to varying degrees. (In good health, but as fellow males of a certain age can attest, 'fine' is not a good way to describe the process of the first experience there, but I digress.)

"They just need to check your passport."

Well now. I never before needed a passport to fly to Denver from Washington, but apparently Colorado seceded since my last flight last week. Damn pot smoking hippies.

Feeling defeated, I prepared for one of two possibilities: A) A pre-departure side trip to Dulles (always a good time; 267 traffic is my totes fave) followed by some quality time with Officer Balletouchre at the TSA, or B) Arrive at the airport at some ungodly time like 3AM, and deal with the "prime shift" of friendly United and TSA folks.

Feeling the light of Smisek shining on me, I decided to keep my faith and HUACA, hoping for a Change I Would Like (TM). Before I did, I repented for my over-entitledness and burned a drink ticket over a copy of Rhapsody as an offering to His Jeffness.

Apparently, it worked.

Jane picked up on the 1K line, greeted me kindly, "refreshed my reservation", and my boarding pass was on my phone. Under 30 seconds. Done and done.

Apparently I could in fact tell time! Apparently my bodily cavities have a good chance of remaining un-invaded tomorrow! (Yeah, second butt inspection reference in one post, whaddaya want from me.) And most importantly, I didn't need to waste a couple hours of my time because Jane went through the tedious process of hitting F5 or some equivalent.

Thank you Jane!

And thank you Jeff, for keeping United Flyer-Friendly! I'll be back for more punishment next week. Let's keep things exciting!
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Old May 14, 15, 7:36 am
  #2  
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I commend you on a fun read first-thing this morning. I took this post as tongue-in-cheek, and I hope others do the same.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 14, 15 at 12:38 pm Reason: Discuss the post, not the other posters
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Old May 14, 15, 7:44 am
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Originally Posted by MBS MillionMiler View Post
I commend you on a fun read first-thing this morning. I took this post as tongue-in-cheek, and I hope others do the same.
That was the intent. Just trying to have a little fun at my own expense. If the pedantic literalists feel like using it as an exercise to stoke their ire, then I guess I have served a dual purpose.

I ain't even mad. United is like a drunk uncle as of late. Keeps showing up at family BBQs smashed -- to the point where you just need to laugh when he falls down and inevitably knocks over the grill.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 14, 15 at 12:39 pm Reason: quote updated to reflect Mod edit
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Old May 14, 15, 7:44 am
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Well-written post. I feel this way every time I call UA, except for the ticket-reissue-due-to-upgrade, the one completely unnecessary customer interaction that they seem to have mastered.
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Old May 14, 15, 7:51 am
  #5  
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OP is lucky that Web Support explained the issue. For the most part, when TSA has put a hold on check-in, all you get is something such as "we can't be sure, but it should be easily sorted at the counter when you check-in"
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Old May 14, 15, 7:59 am
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Post should have come with a LOL warning

You should be a comedy writer. As stated in my title, my husband kept asking me what I was laughing at. I was in another room and he heard me laughing, great way to start my morning, I did not pick up my tea though as I knew when I first started reading there would be a danger of spitting it out when I laughed.

Well played sir!
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Old May 14, 15, 7:59 am
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The whole point is that there was no "TSA hold".

Great post and rings true.
When there are no other options, just blame it on safety and security.
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Old May 14, 15, 8:06 am
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You must have been sick that day in first grade when they covered the 'ish o clock' rules. Such a sad failing of the American school system.
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Old May 14, 15, 8:10 am
  #9  
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Great post. They should actually use this in training to train people to find the right answer rather than BS people.

But we know they won't do it. Their mentality to customers is that each all is a liability, and it's best to get rid of them as quickly as possible to keep your call times down, hence the pre-printed random excuse cards...
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Old May 14, 15, 8:15 am
  #10  
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Thanks for the entertaining post this morning. Indeed, you could quit your day job and become a comedy writer. Loved it.
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Old May 14, 15, 8:17 am
  #11  
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Thank you for my morning-ish laugh.
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Old May 14, 15, 8:40 am
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Thank you for this amusing write-up.

Like you, I have generally found T-24 to be T-24, not T-24 +/- an arbitrary amount of time. I've had issues when clocks (whether mine or the computer server's, I don't remember) have been off by 30 seconds or a minute at the most -- but that has been rare.
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Old May 14, 15, 8:43 am
  #13  
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I was laughing at the entire post.... and I was particularly humored by the "-ish" language.... I was watching the 3rd season of "House of Cards" and during the democratic debate "ish" was being added to several words....

THANKS for the laughs!
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Old May 14, 15, 8:50 am
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
Well-written post. I feel this way every time I call UA, except for the ticket-reissue-due-to-upgrade, the one completely unnecessary customer interaction that they seem to have mastered.
Just called in today. Agent proceeds to interrupt me: "ah yeah, your upgrade messed it up, hold on".

If you want to be saving $$$, United, fix this, and see your needs for answering the phone go down.
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Old May 14, 15, 8:56 am
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Post of the week. I'll have to remember to add the "ish" logic to any code I write dealing with time. I foolishly use actual time like a dolt.

Thanks for posting.
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