IRROPS interlining and group travel

Old Feb 1, 21, 3:47 pm
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st3
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IRROPS interlining and group travel

I am part of a non-profit ski club that in a normal (non COVID) year does 15-20 trips a season. For the airline selection the lowest cost option is usually selected which for larger airports like DEN is often Southwest. Within the past few years a number of issues have cropped up and I am going to make a formal recommendation to remove WN from the vendor list, but I want to ensure my statements are correct before I do.

With IROPS and interlining what level of obligation does UA (or any of the legacies for that matter) have for interlining, especially with a group? If we are flying out of an outstation like HDN and the flight is cancelled (not weather), would they put everyone on another carrier? I know that group travel policies can differ from what an individual traveler is entitled to.

I’ve done a little research on here and on the Googlebox and didn’t come away with much. I want to make sure I am crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s if I make any definitive statements.

MODS: Please feel free to move to another forum if needed, none popped out to me as being better suited than here.
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Old Feb 1, 21, 4:24 pm
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Of course UA interlines with other carriers. During irops you might get lucky to be put OAL, but this is YMMV even for 1K/GS depending on who you talk to. For a group of 'no status flyers' flying out of ultra small airports you are very unlikely going to find a situation where UA would find an option to re-route you OAL. There is certainly no obligation for an individual traveler, let alone a group.
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Old Feb 1, 21, 4:47 pm
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One thing’s certain, they won’t reaccommodate you on Southwest’s new HDN-DEN flight!
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Old Feb 1, 21, 4:57 pm
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A couple of key points
Carriers such as WN, F9, NK, B6 ... do not participate with (AA/DL/UA) legacy carriers for ticket interlining, so this eliminates a number of options to DEN

Generally pushing a ticket between the legacies is limited and depends on the situation and status -- and most importantly space available. In IRROPs carriers may not have the space / wiliness to accept a large group from another carrier.
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Old Feb 2, 21, 6:00 am
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
A couple of key points
Carriers such as WN, F9, NK, B6 ... do not participate with (AA/DL/UA) legacy carriers for ticket interlining, so this eliminates a number of options to DEN

Generally pushing a ticket between the legacies is limited and depends on the situation and status -- and most importantly space available. In IRROPs carriers may not have the space / wiliness to accept a large group from another carrier.
This is true to an extent however on a local station level there may be an agreement between carriers to “push” tickets to each other. I’ve been on US where the flight was canceled and all the passengers were moved to WN. There has never been an inter line agreement between both carriers for ticketing however there is a local agreement for the station to help each other out in IROPs.
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Old Feb 2, 21, 6:57 am
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Originally Posted by Intl359Widget View Post
This is true to an extent however on a local station level there may be an agreement between carriers to “push” tickets to each other. I’ve been on US where the flight was canceled and all the passengers were moved to WN. There has never been an inter line agreement between both carriers for ticketing however there is a local agreement for the station to help each other out in IROPs.
I am NOT doubting your story... but if it was a US flight that means it was quite some time ago.

The larger factor is there would be no way for the OP to qualify if this exists, and what or where to contact when there is a problem.

Originally Posted by st3 View Post
With IROPS and interlining what level of obligation does UA (or any of the legacies for that matter) have for interlining, especially with a group? If we are flying out of an outstation like HDN and the flight is cancelled (not weather), would they put everyone on another carrier? I know that group travel policies can differ from what an individual traveler is entitled to.
I would take a look at the UA's group program: https://united.business/groups (while its on the UA "business site" is does indeed indicate its for any group or team).
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Old Feb 2, 21, 7:17 am
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It is important to separate the question of whether an interline e-ticketing agreement exists from the question of whether a carrier will interline in a given circumstance. The former creates the contractual capability of one carrier to "push" its tickets to another. With that capacity it may do so, but that does not create the reality.

Neither WN or F9 interline with any other carrier. For your purposes, this leaves AA. Not a very likely occurrence, but "legally" possible. Given that you are planning 20 trips per year for a group, perhaps an IRROPS policy written into your contract? E.g., same as 1K? That still leaves the logistical problem of finding however many seats that is on a limited service airport. On the other hand, presuming that you are planning next season and carriers are cash hungry, you may have some leverage.
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Old Feb 2, 21, 8:36 am
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Originally Posted by jhayes_1780 View Post
I am NOT doubting your story... but if it was a US flight that means it was quite some time ago.
I've personally seen a JetBlue representative push people to UA -- he used his corporate card.

I've also been unable to get onto an AUS-DEN flight, and the reason that I was given (by a UA ticket agent) is that F9 had cancelled and moved a bunch of people to UA.

Overall, though, I agree with the general tenor of the conversation: WN generally can't interline, and UA generally can. That said, we're talking about mostly seasonal destinations at their peak: pre-pandemic, these flights mostly went full, or nearly so. An interline agreement doesn't do you much good when there are no seats.
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Old Feb 2, 21, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I've personally seen a JetBlue representative push people to UA -- he used his corporate card.

I've also been unable to get onto an AUS-DEN flight, and the reason that I was given (by a UA ticket agent) is that F9 had cancelled and moved a bunch of people to UA.

Overall, though, I agree with the general tenor of the conversation: WN generally can't interline, and UA generally can. That said, we're talking about mostly seasonal destinations at their peak: pre-pandemic, these flights mostly went full, or nearly so. An interline agreement doesn't do you much good when there are no seats.
I've seen it too (at DTW to a NK flight), but IMhO I think its the exception, rather then the rule. Further its can be tough to create that expectation for the OP to go into his meeting with the group with the advice of: "yep, if the flight is cancelled/delayed/misconnected UA will buy the group all tickets on OA's"
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Old Feb 2, 21, 10:19 am
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Depends on when the flight is cancelled. If the flight is cancelled in advance (>24 hours of scheduled flight), in general they will not put you on OAL and instead offer a refund instead if there were no other UA options. However, you can always ask, but prepare to be disappointed.

For same day cancellations, there is more flexibility, but they will try to rebook on UA options first. If the rescheduled flights are not reasonable and an OAL option exists, the easiest way to convince the agent is to have those specific flight information available. The biggest challenge may be finding enough seats to accomodate the entire group, and this is where the group desk may be helpful.
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Old Feb 2, 21, 12:59 pm
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I’m curious as to what type of issues have cropped up? How big are the groups on each trip?
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Old Feb 2, 21, 2:50 pm
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Appreciate the input and advice from everyone. Seems to be very much a YMMV situation with a lot of variables in play (status of the travelers, size of the group, if there are enough seats on OAL...) so nothing that could be described as a strict rule. Quite frankly I was expecting that a bit, but as they say you never know until you ask!

Originally Posted by birdiedouble View Post
I’m curious as to what type of issues have cropped up? How big are the groups on each trip?
Cancelled flights mainly. We had a trip 2 years ago where WN cancelled our flight the day before. They wouldn't split up the group (despite it being smaller than usual for us) so the quickest they could get us out was 3 days later! This wasn't weather-related either

Our trips are usually about 40 travelers but most of the airlines won't give us that many seats so it often ends up being something like 22 travelers on one flight and 20 on another.
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Old Feb 2, 21, 3:59 pm
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Over the years I have helped a friend with a very large golf group and quite awhile ago I looked into trying to see if there was something we could do with the air travel part of the trip, but it was too much trouble and there weren’t enough people traveling on the same day from the same city to really get any financial savings and it’s just easier to let everyone deal with their own travel plans. Everything else is planned for them.
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Old Feb 2, 21, 11:38 pm
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I think there’s been plenty of chime in on the ability to interline and recommendations.

I do want to share one story I heard on FT years ago, this may even be pre-eTickets being standard. A UA 1K was flying some route WN also operated. I think it was last flight of the night and UA cancelled, the CS agent actually created a PNR on WN within old Apollo then printed a check for the ticket amount made out to WN on a boarding pass (kind of like reaccom and food vouchers). He walked over to the gate, presented the check, and was given a seat.

With all the cuts and changes to SHARES, surely this is probably not a possibility anymore. But always loved this story.
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Old Feb 3, 21, 5:49 pm
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Originally Posted by nevansm View Post
I think there’s been plenty of chime in on the ability to interline and recommendations.

I do want to share one story I heard on FT years ago, this may even be pre-eTickets being standard. A UA 1K was flying some route WN also operated. I think it was last flight of the night and UA cancelled, the CS agent actually created a PNR on WN within old Apollo then printed a check for the ticket amount made out to WN on a boarding pass (kind of like reaccom and food vouchers). He walked over to the gate, presented the check, and was given a seat.

With all the cuts and changes to SHARES, surely this is probably not a possibility anymore. But always loved this story.
I've had that done for me on pre-merger UA once where UA canceled their last SFO-LAS and rebooked a bunch of us GS/1Ks over to WN with these printed checks. I was like Classy Move UA. The WN crew members treated the GS/1Ks to free drinks and superb service in an effort to win us over.
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