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United sells tickets with hidden airport transfers...

United sells tickets with hidden airport transfers...

Old Jul 4, 18, 6:56 am
  #1  
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United sells tickets with hidden airport transfers, double-charges for bag

Used the app to buy a mileage ticket, PHL-DCA-CLE. When checking in at the airport, discovered the ticket was ACTUALLY PHL-IAD/DCA-CLE. Agents were of no help in changing the ticket to avoid the unadvertised airport transfer, suggesting more attention should have been paid when the ticket was booked. So I went to book the same itinerary for the next day, and this is what the app shows when booking this ticket:




Flight Selection Screen





Purchase Confirmation Screen







Three screens that say PHL-DCA-CLE with a connection in DCA. The ONLY place in the entire booking process that indicates anything else is the cabin select screen subs out "IAD" for "DCA" above where it says you have a 3:34 stop and plane change in Washington, DC.

I feel like United ultimately didn't provide the travel that was booked (PHL-DCA-CLE), and refused to adjust the travel to something reasonable, forcing a $56 uber ride between airports.

To add insult to injury, on arrival at DCA, was forced to pay a SECOND bag check fee for the second leg of what should have been one ticket.

Should I ask for a refund of the miles? The second bag fee? Reimbursement of the uber fare?

Ticket purchased for a friend, who did not have any luck getting help at check-in and did not really have time to request help and still make her flight after landing at IAD.

Last edited by raehl311; Jul 4, 18 at 9:22 am
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Old Jul 4, 18, 7:02 am
  #2  
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That is heinous. How can any airline sell an "air" ticket with an undisclosed ground leg?
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Old Jul 4, 18, 7:15 am
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How is it undisclosed? The last screen shot clearly shows PHL -> IAD and DCA -> CLE. I don't disagree that there should be text somewhere saying "hey, pay attention, you have an airport transfer in this ticket".

OP and his/her friend have no leg to stand on to request UA to pay the $56 uber fare. The OP purchased the ticket and should have known about the transfer. Sure, the airport agents in PHL could have helped but they didn't _have_ to do it and sounds like they couldn't or didn't.

OP, sorry, but you need to move on from this one. The data you needed during the booking process was there and you still chose to buy the ticket. You are not due any mileage back nor the Uber fare. What mileage were you hoping for anyway? You were already on a saver award. There are no lower mileage tickets.

-RM
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Old Jul 4, 18, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
How is it undisclosed? The last screen shot clearly shows PHL -> IAD and DCA -> CLE. I don't disagree that there should be text somewhere saying "hey, pay attention, you have an airport transfer in this ticket".

OP and his/her friend have no leg to stand on to request UA to pay the $56 uber fare. The OP purchased the ticket and should have known about the transfer. Sure, the airport agents in PHL could have helped but they didn't _have_ to do it and sounds like they couldn't or didn't.

OP, sorry, but you need to move on from this one. The data you needed during the booking process was there and you still chose to buy the ticket. You are not due any mileage back nor the Uber fare. What mileage were you hoping for anyway? You were already on a saver award. There are no lower mileage tickets.

-RM
Absurd. If you don't know what IAD/DCA is, you won't know what you're looking at. I have always seen it explicitly spelled out if there has been any airport change.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 8:08 am
  #5  
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They do call out the airport change on the website award flight listings. It's just the app that has the issue.

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Old Jul 4, 18, 8:16 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
How is it undisclosed? The last screen shot clearly shows PHL -> IAD and DCA -> CLE. I don't disagree that there should be text somewhere saying "hey, pay attention, you have an airport transfer in this ticket".

OP and his/her friend have no leg to stand on to request UA to pay the $56 uber fare. The OP purchased the ticket and should have known about the transfer. Sure, the airport agents in PHL could have helped but they didn't _have_ to do it and sounds like they couldn't or didn't.

OP, sorry, but you need to move on from this one. The data you needed during the booking process was there and you still chose to buy the ticket. You are not due any mileage back nor the Uber fare. What mileage were you hoping for anyway? You were already on a saver award. There are no lower mileage tickets.

-RM
Go through the booking process.

The screen where I select the itinerary says, "PHL-DCA-CLE", no indication whatsoever that there is an airport change. The last screen where I confirm the flight and make the purchase says, "PHL-DCA_-CLE". No indication whatsoever that there's an airport change.

On cabin selection screen in between, it says: "Stop in Washington, DC (DCA) / 3 hr 34 min layover / Change Planes" - specifically saying there's one stop at DCA and a plane change - NOT an airport change.

The *ONLY* place *ANYWHERE* in the process where there's any indication at all that there's an airport change is on the cabin selection screen (the middle of three screens, neither the screen where you select the itinerary nor the screen where you confirm the itinerary), and that indication is DCA has been replaced with IAD. And again, right below that, in actual words, it tells you that you are changing planes in Washington, DC.


Anyway, the last screen where you click "Agree - confirm purchase" absolutely does not say anything about IAD, it says PHL-DCA-CLE. The first screen says PHL-DCA-CLE. The middle screen says stop in DCA, change planes.


I would generally expect a refund of either the miles for the ticket, or a reimbursement of the uber fare, since United didn't fly PAX where they said they were going to, and a refund of the second bag fee, since PAX shouldn't be charged two bag fees on one ticket.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 8:17 am
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On the full website, these types of routings are always fully highlighted indicating that they contain an airport transfer. I don't book flights on the mobile app, as I don't feel it gives you the same level of information that the website does. This is a perfect example of one of those data points.

While I feel for the OP, you always need to pay attention to the origin/destination airport codes. I know that IAD is not DCA, but then I travel a lot. There are a few airport clusters like that (IAD/DCA) (SFO/???/???) (LAX/???) that I know could result in a transfer if they are not my origin or final destination.

I agree that the mobile app needs to flag this kind of routing in a manner similar to the how the full website does, in order to make it very clear to the buyer that an airport transfer is included.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by drowelf View Post
you always need to pay attention to the origin/destination airport codes
Which screen should I be paying attention to? The first screen where I selected the itinerary that said "PHL-DCA-CLE"? Or the purchase confirmation screen that said "PHL-DCA-CLE"? Or the cabin selection screen that said, "Stop in Washington DC (DCA), change planes"?

I did pay attention, to every time the app said the ticket was PHL-DCA-CLE with a plane change in DCA.

I agree that the mobile app needs to flag this kind of routing in a manner similar to the how the full website does, in order to make it very clear to the buyer that an airport transfer is included.
It's not a matter of being not clear. On EVERY SINGLE SCREEN in the app booking process, the app says you are buying PHL-DCA-CLE with a plane change in DCA. First screen says PHL-DCA-CLE. Purcahse confirmation screen says PHL-DCA-CLE. Cabin selection screen says "Stop in Washington DC (DCA) / 3 hr 34 minute layover / change planes".

Flagging would be good. Not lying would be better.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 8:56 am
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Just because this place is full of experts does not mean that all United travelers are. Nor should United travelers be expected to be experts in Unitedís business and flight operations.

That HAS to be disclosed and explained better on the app.
Bag fee refund plus a voucher is where I would go.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 9:16 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
I did pay attention, to every time the app said the ticket was PHL-DCA-CLE with a plane change in DCA.
Youíre a UA Platinum, and it didnít smell even the least bit fishy to you that UA would operate a PHL-DCA flight?

This is disclosed extremely poorly on the app; itís much better on the web. I agree that itís confusing. The right thing to do probably would have been for agents, either at PHL or at IAD, to put your friend on an IAD-CLE flight. The only tricky part is that UA presumably doesnít want people to be able to book this kind of itinerary ó in order to get saver awards vs everyday awards ó and then get agents to ďfixĒ it for them.

Still ó what about the receipt? You had 24 hours to review the reservation and fix it at that point. At no point between booking and the airport did anyone ever pull up the itinerary online?

Personally, Iíd consider it a lesson learned and move on. Full disclosure: Iíve actually done the same thing for the same reason (Tokyo, not DC, but itís the same root cause). However, I noticed it immediately and went back and changed it. That probably makes me biased.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 9:24 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
You’re a UA Platinum, and it didn’t smell even the least bit fishy to you that UA would operate a PHL-DCA flight?

No more fishy than operating a CLE-DCA flight.

Still — what about the receipt? You had 24 hours to review the reservation and fix it at that point. At no point between booking and the airport did anyone ever pull up the itinerary online?
Flight was booked about 10 hours prior to departure, so, no.

And the PAX doesn't even know there are two airports in DC. (Well I guess she does now...)
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Old Jul 4, 18, 9:54 am
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
No more fishy than operating a CLE-DCA flight.

CLE was a pmCO and then UA hub, but, admittedly, itís been a while.

Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
Flight was booked about 10 hours prior to departure, so, no.

And the PAX doesn't even know there are two airports in DC. (Well I guess she does now...)
OK, fair enough. It doesnít really change my opinion about UAís level of responsibility, but I can certainly understand how you wouldnít be re-checking receipts in that kind of situation. Sorry.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 9:56 am
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Sorry to read this experience. Like others my experience has been the change of airport was highlighted when searching flights so never select such flights.

I am more surprised that your friend had to collect and take her luggage between the two airports? Is that correct? Most definitely I would ask for a refund of the baggage fee. One reservation so luggage should be tagged to the final destination.

Goodness me even when I fly back to the USA and have to collect my luggage to clear customs and then put the bag on the recheck luggage belt I do not pay again (well I am 1K so issue is somewhat moot, but they are not collecting fees from non'elites).
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Old Jul 4, 18, 9:58 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Aussienarelle View Post
I am more surprised that your friend had to collect and take her luggage between the two airports? Is that correct? Most definitely I would ask for a refund of the baggage fee. One reservation so luggage should be tagged to the final destination.
Yes, itís correct. When you have a ground transfer, youíre required to carry your bags yourself. But I do agree that if the bag was checked all the way through to CLE, the agent at DCA should have accepted it without charging a second fee.
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Old Jul 4, 18, 10:32 am
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Iíd encourage the OP to relay this issue, along with screenshots, to the DOT. Theyíll engage United on this issue, which may drive changes to how the app displays these flights.
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