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EWR IRROPS: UA sent me to a different airport

EWR IRROPS: UA sent me to a different airport

Old Jun 3, 19, 1:39 pm
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EWR IRROPS: UA sent me to a different airport

As many of us are, I'm all too familiar with the impact of weather at EWR. Last week was especially trying, with four straight days of heavy thunderstorms hitting the area right around evening rush. I was scheduled to fly EWR-JAX on Thursday late, and the flight cancelled as the aircraft making up our flight was itself a cancelled flight. So while I'm on the phone talking to one of the great agents at the 1K desk, we are trying to rebook an evening flight EWR-IAH, followed by an early morning flight IAH-JAX (the only available option to JAX sooner than 24 hours out). The agent wasn't able to book it because "someone was in my record." After trying a few things, she told me that EWR Reservations was in my record and was rebooking me EWR-MCO that evening. She wasn't able to change it. So I asked her what that meant relative to me needing to be in JAX rather than MCO, and she said that if they're forcing my rebooking to the MCO flight, then the local agents would have booked ground transport MCO-JAX. Odd, I thought, but this was the 1K desk - so I did as she told me to and tried to ask someone local at EWR. Three different gate agents, two different agents at the customer service desk, and they all told me that it was my choice to reroute to MCO and therefore my obligation for ground transport. I explained that I never accepted the reroute, it was done automatically, but they still smiled their professionally trained smiles and told me it was on me. After speaking to a supervisor on my third call to the 1K desk, he also gave me the professional brush-off. What's more, whilst standing at the gate, six other people who heard me asking the gate agent about MCO-JAX ground transport came up and said they were in the same situation - they were involuntarily rerouted to MCO and didn't know how they were getting to JAX. And by the time I got the final "this is your problem" rebuff, that EWR-IAH option was long gone, leaving only the MCO flight or waiting until the late Friday evening flight. Unfortunately, the MCO flight ended up being delayed much more, and we didn't even push back until 00:45 and arrived at MCO around 03:40. I took it upon myself to snag a room at the MCO Hyatt (more on that in a different post) and rent myself a one-way car to get back home after a few hours of shuteye. But for the life of me, I can't recall a situation quite like this one in my 20+ years of frequent flying. Can an airline simply send pax to a city 140+ miles away after a flight cancellation? Is this UA saying, "well, it's close enough?"
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Old Jun 3, 19, 1:45 pm
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I know this wouldn't change the way things played out for you, but just curious if your phone app was showing you any options you could book yourself (such as EWR-IAH-JAX), or was that option the "more than 24 hours out" choice you mentioned?
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Old Jun 3, 19, 2:02 pm
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That's odd. Just send in the bills and I am near certain UA will pay. You never agreed to MCO and you were involuntarily re-routed, so it is on them to get you to your final destination ... close enough is not even LGA when you are booked to EWR ... they owe you transportation! Did you get info from the other 6 pax? May help in case UA decides the play hardball.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 2:10 pm
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Agreed, send the bills with a short explanation and I'm fairly certain you'll be reimbursed. It is odd though.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by tarheelnj View Post
I know this wouldn't change the way things played out for you, but just curious if your phone app was showing you any options you could book yourself (such as EWR-IAH-JAX), or was that option the "more than 24 hours out" choice you mentioned?
The only option on the app was the same flight nonstop next day, 24+ hours out. But during IRROPS I always call the 1K desk because they can help with standbys and with routings. I've had it happen before where I'm on the phone with 1K desk while someone else is trying to proactively reroute me, but in this case whatever they were doing was "blocking my rebook" to quote the 1K agent and she couldn't override it.

Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
Did you get info from the other 6 pax? May help in case UA decides the play hardball.
That's what the supervisor on the 1K desk asked me to do after 52 minutes on the phone with them. By that time, the EWR-MCO flight was delayed further and another flight was boarding from our gate, so the other pax had scattered. I thought about rounding them up and getting all their PNR's, but by that time I was so worn out that I just gave up. Later I did find some of them, and they were just as defeated as me. I know one woman and her husband who were trying to get to St. Augustine ended up renting a car and leaving straight away (at 3:30-ish in the morning to drive 2+ hours). There was also another guy who had a group of 4-5 young people with him; I saw him when he boarded the plane and he said he had to rent a van to drive the kids to Gainesville.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 2:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Boofer View Post
I've had it happen before where I'm on the phone with 1K desk while someone else is trying to proactively reroute me ...
I had this happen to me (sorta) back in March when I misconnected in FRA, but it wasn't nothing that couldn't be changed to suit my preferences.

I am really curious to know how UA handles this, and I hope you follow up with us here. I would have been none too pleased if this had happened to me.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 2:46 pm
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I've seen this work both ways with UA. A few years ago, I was flying SFO-SNA and due to MX, they rebooked me onto SFO-BUR and then paid for a shuttle to get me to SNA. More recently, I was flying ORD-LGA and we diverted to EWR as we were arriving after the midnight curfew and we were on our own to get from EWR to LGA.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 2:57 pm
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Agreed, send the bills with a short explanation and I'm fairly certain you'll be reimbursed. It is odd though.
And if they don't, talk to your credit card company about a chargeback on the grounds that United did not deliver what you paid for, and was in breach of their contract of carriage.

Don't be surprised if United offers vouchers rather than cash, although probably in an amount greater than you're asking for. Up to you if you accept or keep pushing for cash.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Boofer View Post
Is this UA saying, "well, it's close enough?"
Couple of years ago I was flying JAX-ORD-FRA and JAX-ORD cancelled due to MX. I called the 1K Desk and the agent suggested I drive to MCO or TPA to get to ORD. I told them at best MCO was a 2.5 hour drive and that they needed to put me on another airline which they did, JAX-ATL-ORD on Delta.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 3:17 pm
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Maybe they think JAX and MCO are right next to each other like ORD and MDW.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 4:16 pm
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Wow thatís awful. Iím currently on a flight tin DEN that was diverted to BFF and I sure hope we donít get bussed.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 11:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Boofer View Post
. But for the life of me, I can't recall a situation quite like this one in my 20+ years of frequent flying. Can an airline simply send pax to a city 140+ miles away after a flight cancellation? Is this UA saying, "well, it's close enough?"
No, they are in violation of their CoC and should pay any ancillary expenses, along with give you miles/vouchers. Technically it is an involuntary re-routing (since you did not agree) and they are in violation of the CoC - which does not provide for them anywhere, it only discusses getting you to your destination and having failed to comply with the CoC (see Rule 24C and E) then the passenger is entitled to a refund upon request. Rule 24E(3). UA has paired cities (see 27A(2)) but MCO and JAX are not on the list. see https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...ml#tcm:76-6604

My last similar experience on UA was back in 2011, Mx in incoming from SFO, and GS in DEN was unable to get zone to hold the AC, leaving my flight to OKC to go out 5 minutes before I got to the gate. I was POed, and only (a) nice agent, (b) who booked me a rental car at UA's expense to drive TUL to OKC,, and (c) they gave me a bunch of miles made it ok. Now I was GS, and this was before the program was Jeffed-up, but the rule is clear, they gotta get you to your destination city, not a city that is not listed as a pair under Rule 27
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Old Jun 4, 19, 1:20 am
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Iíd also say this is worth a DOT complaint due to the blatant violation of the CoC.
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Old Jun 4, 19, 6:42 am
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Has anyone had experience with this approach? (Haven't tried it myself.) If the phone agent says they found an itinerary that would work but someone else is in the record, effectively blocking it, could you just tell the agent to book the trip on a new ticket and pay for it, then wait for the record to unblock and sort it out then. That way, you have the routing you want and then you just need an agent to push through the change and cancel the "new" ticket. Granted, you could run into a "two overlapping itineraries" situation, resulting in a double cancellation, but I would think UA's system would recognize the IRROPS situation and leave it alone.
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Old Jun 4, 19, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
No, they are in violation of their CoC and should pay any ancillary expenses, along with give you miles/vouchers.
CoC or no CoC, a few years ago, owing to a late, connecting-busting DCA-EWR, I was rerouted DCA-EWR-SEA to IAD-LAX-SEA, It cost me $80 in carfare to get out to Dulles and United refused to reimburse. I filed a formal DOT complaint, then they reimbursed promptly. Seems to me UA's default behavior in cases like this is to deny reimbursement, whether or not the regs are on their side, and hope customers won't press the case.
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