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Cancellation Without Fee for Aircraft Swap? 787-9 to 777-300ER

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Old May 16, 18, 1:36 am
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Cancellation Without Fee for Aircraft Swap? 787-9 to 777-300ER

So, I recently checked the airfare for an SFO to TPE roundtrip flight, and it dropped ~$100 since I booked it. That's too bad. But, I also noticed that the aircraft type switched from a 787-9 to a 777-300ER, which is known to have a tighter Economy seat. The flight times also shifted by less than half an hour, but I figure that's less important.

Anyhow, I was wondering if it's worth calling in to see whether this is a justifiable reason for asking them to cancel my ticket without having to pay the cancellation fee. I'd be fine with the ticket value crediting back to my account, since I could use it to book a new flight.

Any insights to this situation?
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Old May 16, 18, 1:46 am
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Originally Posted by 18wheeler_vanrekt View Post
Anyhow, I was wondering if it's worth calling in to see whether this is a justifiable reason for asking them to cancel my ticket without having to pay the cancellation fee. I'd be fine with the ticket value crediting back to my account, since I could use it to book a new flight.
A change of seating configuration is listed as irregular operations in the UA Contract of Carriage. While the clause is likely intended to cover 1-2-1 => 2-4-2 business class, or 3-class to 2-class, it's broad enough that you may be able to get satisfaction. Either try "I don't want to fly on a 10-across airplane" or perhaps "I really wanted to fly on the 787." Just make sure to be polite and don't argue if the first person refuses; hang up and try again, rather than risk getting a negative note in your reservation.

PS: 9-across on a 787 isn't much wider than 10-across on a 777, as the 787 cabin is 12-18" narrower than the 777.
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Old May 16, 18, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
A change of seating configuration is listed as irregular operations in the UA Contract of Carriage.
The full phrase is "Substitution of aircraft type that provides different classes of service or different seat configurations;"

I'd be surprised if you could say 3-3-3 to 3-4-3 qualifies. And the seats are basically the same in Y.
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Old May 16, 18, 8:52 am
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Good luck with that.
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Old May 16, 18, 8:55 am
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I don't think you'll get anywhere on the seat front, but you might on the half-hour departure/arrival difference.
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Old May 16, 18, 8:55 am
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I strongly doubt you'll get a refund on a nonrefundable ticket in this case. While the CoC defines a configuration change as "irregular operations", that does not trigger a right to refund by itself. Any of the defined irregular operations first leads to an obligation for United to transport the passenger on its own metal to the destination or stopover point, followed by accommodation (at United's "sole discretion") on other carriers.

MAYBE you can make a case for EVA Y on the SFO-TPE flight, but I also have serious doubts about that approach.

In reality, there isn't much difference between 787 and 77W Y.
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Old May 16, 18, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by 18wheeler_vanrekt View Post
So, I recently checked the airfare for an SFO to TPE roundtrip flight, and it dropped ~$100 since I booked it. That's too bad. But, I also noticed that the aircraft type switched from a 787-9 to a 777-300ER, which is known to have a tighter Economy seat. The flight times also shifted by less than half an hour, but I figure that's less important.

Anyhow, I was wondering if it's worth calling in to see whether this is a justifiable reason for asking them to cancel my ticket without having to pay the cancellation fee. I'd be fine with the ticket value crediting back to my account, since I could use it to book a new flight.

Any insights to this situation?
dont know that most people will see that noticeable a difference. A 10-across 777 and 9 across 787, IME, are pretty much equally tight, and either way, I’d rather be on an Airbus.

I suppose its its always worth a shot, but I wouldn’t hold my breathe. I think you’d have a better chance of success on the schedule change.
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Old May 16, 18, 9:08 am
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I definitely feel better on the 9-across 787 than the 10-across 777. I would especially feel better if my airfare were $100 cheaper to boot.
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Old May 16, 18, 9:17 am
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Give it a shot, all that they can say is no.

You can mention that the seating configuration has changed, but also that you specifically booked the Dreamliner since it is one of the only ways that you can arrive at your destination feeling less jetlagged and a 777 simply won't cut it, and had you known that you wouldn't have booked, blah blah blah...
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Old May 16, 18, 9:37 am
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
The full phrase is "Substitution of aircraft type that provides different classes of service or different seat configurations;"

I'd be surprised if you could say 3-3-3 to 3-4-3 qualifies. And the seats are basically the same in Y.
The phrase "seat configurations" does not have any standard definition of which I'm aware. To me, 3-3-3 vs 3-4-3 is a change of seat configurations; they were configured 9-across, and now they're configured 10-across. Do I expect every UA representative to agree? No. Do I think it's possible that someone will? Sure; it's a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the words, and, barring an applicable definition, the common English meaning of the words should apply.

If UA intended to exclude Y seating arrangements, they should have said so -- or, better yet (from their perspective), left the clause out of the CoC entirely.

I do agree that the seats are basically the same, and I'm not sure it's worth the effort of trying to convince someone about it. It's not nearly as bad as going from a 9-across 772 to a 10-across 772 would be (in that it was already pretty tight on the 787). OP may find more sympathy using the 787 vs. non-787 approach. But, given the way that UA has chosen to write their contract, this isn't an unreasonable request.
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Old May 16, 18, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
The phrase "seat configurations" does not have any standard definition of which I'm aware.
That's linguistic nihilism, a concept with which I do not agree. Words are interpreted in their ordinary, normal course. We also look to industry custom and usage. Applying these precepts, it seems to me fairly obvious the language of the CoC is intended to cover substantial, material changes in seating, i.e., going from lie-flats to recliners.

UA surely did not intend to give pax a right to a free refund when they substitute an aircraft with a 9 across Y to a wider aircraft with 10 across Y. In fact, I'd be embarrassed to make that argument, because IMO it's not credible.
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Old May 16, 18, 9:51 am
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Although many FTers know that the seat widths between the 787-9 and 773W are about the same, I am not sure that the average flyer would. Of course, some would check Seat Guru, but I remember when I flew less, I didn't even pay much attention to the seat width. I was just looking at the number of seats in the cabin!

Re: "seat configuration": I interpret that to mean how the seats are laid out in the cabin and how many there are. To me, going from 3-3-3 to 3-4-3 is a different configuration of seats. One definition of "configuration" is: "an arrangement of elements in a particular form, figure, or combination". In my mind, there's no stretching there. I'm not sure how else I would interpret "seat configuration".

Though maybe someone would call that "seating configuration" as opposed to "seat configuration". However, I would used "seat type" in that context. But I'm not a lawyer.
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Old May 16, 18, 10:00 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
That's linguistic nihilism, a concept with which I do not agree. Words are interpreted in their ordinary, normal course. We also look to industry custom and usage. Applying these precepts, it seems to me fairly obvious the language of the CoC is intended to cover substantial, material changes in seating, i.e., going from lie-flats to recliners.
Then they should have said so. I'm no nihilist, and I'm not trying to play games here. As far as I'm concerned, the seating layout is part of the configuration. Maybe you booked the interior aisle on a 3-3-3 configuration in an attempt to reduce the number of people stepping over you while you try to sleep. Well, if you're now on the 3-4-3, that plan just failed.

Conversely, are you suggesting that a J passenger who booked a 77W and got swapped to a 772 should have no recourse? Both are lie-flat seats -- is all-aisle access a material change?
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Old May 16, 18, 10:08 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Conversely, are you suggesting that a J passenger who booked a 77W and got swapped to a 772 should have no recourse? Both are lie-flat seats -- is all-aisle access a material change?
Correct. 77W to 772 would not provide a contractual basis for a free change/cancel. You might get an agent to waive change fee by emphasizing that the booking was made based on Polaris seat, but that would be a cs gesture, not a contractual right.

Are you really asserting that every single Y pax on that 77W has a right to cancel for free, and that the same right extends fleetwide whenever there's an aircraft swap that affects seating configuration in any way? Because I think you know that it is not the intent of Rule 24.
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Old May 16, 18, 10:12 am
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Curious to know the final outcome. I would interpret a shift from 9 across to 10 across to be a different seating configuration.
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