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Is IRROPS alternative flight protection still offered? (seems to be a YMMV situation)

Is IRROPS alternative flight protection still offered? (seems to be a YMMV situation)

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Old Aug 11, 19, 3:17 pm   -   Wikipost
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What is" being protected?"

Protection means have an alternative flight reservation added to your itinerary in case your present flight is cancelled or maybe missed due to irrops. This was a common practice years ago but has become less common recently, appears UA is discouraging it -- but some agents still will do this, status may be a factor.

Note the new alternative flight is just a reservation, so if needed, you will need to work with an agent to get it properly ticketed but space is being held -- that is your protection.

If the protection is not needed (once you have successful completed the original flight), it is a good idea to cancel the protection. First. to release the space for other. Also it cleans up the record. Finally, there is a small chance (if the protect was not done correctly) it could cause cancellation of your later flights. Agents should use "ARUNK" to prevent this, but since it is not common to do protection, that may be forgotten.

Proactive flight protection questions/experiences & importance of "ARUNK"

from the UA FT Glossary
ARUNK/ARNK: Arrive Unknown -- a statement/segment in the itinerary to designate uncertainty of how traveler will arrive at the next departure point. Could be open-jaw, could be irrops or protected alternative. Needed to prevent auto-cancellation of remaining flights in some irrops situations.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 10:48 am
  #1  
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Is IRROPS alternative flight protection still offered? (seems to be a YMMV situation)

I've just finished a lengthy discussion with an agent who informed me that they will no longer "back up" travellers on alternate flights. Apparently the policy changes within the last month. The agent explained that too many people were having their return flights automatically cancel after they failed to fly on both flights (original and back up) and that too much inventory was being tied up. If true, certainly another downgrade in the travel experience. Apologies if I missed an existing thread on this.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by SAN 1K View Post
I've just finished a lengthy discussion with an agent who informed me that they will no longer "back up" travellers on alternate flights. Apparently the policy changes within the last month. The agent explained that too many people were having their return flights automatically cancel after they failed to fly on both flights (original and back up) and that too much inventory was being tied up. If true, certainly another downgrade in the travel experience. Apologies if I missed an existing thread on this.
As someone who has had downstream flights cancelled and lost seats in the front cabin due to auto-cancellations of unused backup bookings, I'm not sure that this change is a downgrade.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:01 am
  #3  
 
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Backing up or protecting? If my flight is facing irrops, I expect that UA will try to protect me on an alternate flight out of my connection point. If UA's systems cannot handle it, then UA needs to update its systems.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:02 am
  #4  
 
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No More "Backing Up"

Are you saying that they won't protect flyers on a later flight in the case of a highly probable misconnect??
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:02 am
  #5  
 
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flight protection

Not sure whether you equate backing up with protection on a later flight during IROPs. Sunday March 1st the Bos to Den evening flight was seriously delayed and it was unclear whether the inbound would ever reach Boston because of potential crew timeout issues. The GA in Boston protected me on a different routing the next morning but I ended up on the Sunday evening flight as originally scheduled albeit several hours delayed.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:03 am
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by SAN 1K View Post
I've just finished a lengthy discussion with an agent who informed me that they will no longer "back up" travellers on alternate flights. Apparently the policy changes within the last month. The agent explained that too many people were having their return flights automatically cancel after they failed to fly on both flights (original and back up) and that too much inventory was being tied up. If true, certainly another downgrade in the travel experience. Apologies if I missed an existing thread on this.
No more protecting... even for GS? LOL.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:09 am
  #7  
 
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I was auto-protected on a flight from ORD-IAD last week.

Fierce headwinds made the CDG-ORD leg 40 minutes late resulting in a ~40 minute turn. My phone showed an auto-confirmed seat for the later ORD-IAD flight, and the boarding pass for that flight was waiting when I deplaned.

I made my original flight with some time to spare, and I certainly appreciated the actions of UA in this case.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:16 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by sannmann View Post
If UA's systems cannot handle it, then UA needs to update its systems.
Haha!
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:22 am
  #9  
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LOL, so because their IT systems and training for agents suck, they discontinue a customer-centric policy?

I get that people have their downstream segments cancelled because UA's IT is crappy, and because agents don't put the protected flights in the right sequence (they should appear after all other segments).

The solution is to fix that, not to discontinue a customer service which helps pax out. And even though UA is loathe to invest in fixing IT issues that hurt customers, there are plenty of steps they could take as stopgaps:

  • Better-train agents in irrops handling
  • UI overlays that automatically handle inserting the protected flights in the right sequence for the GA during irrops
  • Stop auto-cancelling itins so aggressively! It wouldn't hurt UA to wait a few days to cancel the itin for missed segments; lost revenue from hidden-city ticketing cannot be so substantial that they save enough by canning itins almost immediately over the problems that causes in any kind of irrops.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 11:56 am
  #10  
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This would be a serious downgrade in the Elite travel experience. As a 1K, I expect the airline to bend over backwards to ensure I am protected in case of a misconnect, and not left to fend for myself at the airport, competing with mobs of non-status customers for precious seats.

Having said that, as a rule I always call reservations back to clean up the record once I'm either seated on my original flight or the new flight to avoid issues like these, and many agents actually request that I do so.

However, how hard is it really to add logic to the system to auto-cancel only the segment not taken on the basis of the boarding pass scan. If the BP is scanned for the original flight, then auto cancel the protected segment...if the BP is scanned on the protected segment, auto cancel the original flight, preserve downline segments and clean up the record.

It's simple if-then-else logic - instead of screwing the customer, why not program it in??
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Old Mar 8, 15, 1:02 pm
  #11  
 
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The policy change is a net positive move for customers until United implements a consistent, fair, and reliable process for manually booking re-protect segments.

Agents were all over the place on the use of re-protect segments, with inconsistency to a degree that frustrated customer expectations and created absurdities. To bocastephen's point, I'm sure that, upon review, there were many instances where a 1K/GS/Plat was denied a backup option by an agent and ultimately forced to go standby (or not go at all), while a non-status customer got the last seat on that same flight moments later from a more cooperative agent. No consistency whatsoever.

IMHO, the only times agents should be manually inserting re-protection segments are during DB scenarios where they have to keep hold of seats on a specific flight as part of the offering to the customer, or for certain interline bookings where inserting a backup leg is much preferably to a costly offline involuntary reroute.

Ideally, United should seek instead to better update flight status systems in real time, and tie the automated rebooking functions more closely to that such that agents would rarely need to manually work most reservations in IRROPS situations in the first place. This is the best practice used by most of the major global airlines, and United would benefit greatly from it.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 1:09 pm
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Backed up today due to late arriving, then pushed to AA to accommodate travel today. Rumor sounds like an internet legend.

My backed up intin showed up on the UA App.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 1:13 pm
  #13  
 
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On Friday, I was backed up on multiple UA flights as well as an AA flight which I ended up taking. This was due to all of the cancellations on Thursday in NY/DC. I agree that there probably isn't any truth to this rumor. I was also backed up by UA on a flight two weeks ago without any hassle or issues.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 1:22 pm
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Last Sunday, I was protected on backup LAX-CLD and LAX-SAN flights when JFK-LAX was 5 hours late. Of course, at some point during flight, my confirmed flight and the protected ones were all wiped out so I had nothing.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 1:29 pm
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I just did this about 2 weeks ago, getting backed up on a flight the next day after 3 hour of progressive delays on the last flight of the night.

We eventually went out but they did back me up.

My guess is lazy agent.
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