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Priceline's United Packages: First Class Bait and Switch

Priceline's United Packages: First Class Bait and Switch

Old Jun 12, 22, 2:52 pm
  #31  
 
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Based on what I've read here, it seems like Priceline/United has a bad customer interface that provides false information. I don't think it's intentional; it sounds more like the people who drafted the text don't understand enough about ticketing (or their own system) to appreciate that they got it wrong.

But OP is still right to be upset. And I don't buy the suggestions that it's at all OP's fault because if he's only clicked through three optional screens, or tried to assign seats, or asked for a briefing by UA revenue management before booking...

You should not need intimidate knowledge of fare codes or policies to book a vacation package.

And I don't object to holding United partly responsible for resolving the problem. They put their branding on this portal and clearly market it aggressively. They should make Priceline fix the problem and, in the interim, upgrade OP.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 3:55 pm
  #32  
 
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If it makes you feel any better - the Chase portal can switch your booking classes - you need to carefully check what youve booked versus ticketed.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 4:01 pm
  #33  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
I bought a UA vacation package once. Not convinced it saved me anything, and having a bulk fare made SDC impossible.

I don't think I'd do it again.
I have SDCed on a bulk fare. Takes an agent to do it, but most certainly possible.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 4:11 pm
  #34  
 
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Frankly, the fact that it actually says "Washington, VA" is enough to make me question the quality of product being offered and if I'd risk doing business with them.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 4:43 pm
  #35  
 
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
…OP is correct in pointing out that first segment should say “Economy”. “Careless” is probably more accurate than “bait and switch” or “deceitful”. I think Priceline knows what ill will such a practice would generate for what they hope are long-term customers.
Originally Posted by ezefllying View Post
Based on what I've read here, it seems like Priceline/United has a bad customer interface that provides false information. I don't think it's intentional; it sounds more like the people who drafted the text don't understand enough about ticketing (or their own system) to appreciate that they got it wrong.
I would label this as a classic example of UX dark patterns.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_pattern

A company the size of priceline will extensively use a/b testing - the problem being that a company whose business is as a 3rd party reseller benefits from a/b testing deceptive UX/UI sales practices.

Most people will realize Priceline is at fault (the entity they need to deal with, or will soon be told to call them) and may not use them again. But more likely, will only remember for their once a year trip (next year) that they could get everything bundled and it was probably their fault for not being an expert buyer and digging into the unintuitive UI and buy from them again. Plus they save a couple of bucks, instead of buying direct and putting it together themselves.

Dark pattern wins because they work, and large companies have the money to figure out the best way to be hostile to their users without losing them. Its a surprisingly wide-spread, disgusting, yet highly effective online business UX/UI design practice. And it is very much intentional.

Last edited by random.parts; Jun 12, 22 at 5:05 pm Reason: words
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Old Jun 12, 22, 5:29 pm
  #36  
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What is even worse with new interface is the inability to search for business class in the first place. UGH ... horrible. You have to randomly select flight and then see what the 'upgrade' would look like? Seriously? This is terrifying.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 8:00 pm
  #37  
 
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
What is even worse with new interface is the inability to search for business class in the first place. UGH ... horrible. You have to randomly select flight and then see what the 'upgrade' would look like? Seriously? This is terrifying.
That's because priceline is in the industry of making money when they sell bulk fares. When they sell a published fare, they don't make money on the airfare portion of the bundle. My guess is that given the limited amount of business class availability, UA does not routinely release business fares to priceline in a bulk format. Additionally it is unlikely the typical priceline user is looking to purchase a business class fare if they are shopping for a bargain by using priceline in the first place. So while their agreement with UA probably obligates them to show options to upgrade, the upgrade is likely to a published business fare, which works against priceline's goal, as they make less money from someone booking a published business fare instead of being able to sell them a bulk economy ticket at a markup. For both these reasons, it would make sense why searching for business on priceline isn't the most prominent thing.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 8:09 pm
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by firemandan9 View Post
Priceline supervisor admitted their was a "system error" but that my my only recourse was to cancel the flight portion of my flight my + hotel package or refare the flight portion (frustratingly using only public fares, not bulk) as per their description they are totally separate travel components with separate cancelation policies.

Only at this point did they disclose how awful the cost of my hotel portion of my trip was. I fundamentally can't get behind this response as I made my decision to pay ONE packaged total based on the combined services being offered at one presented price. It can't simultaneously be a package and not a package when they make a mistake IMO.

For anyone having trouble replicating the issue:
1) You never get the option presented to upgrade a single segment in my experience, per my screen shot above you select to upgrade the whole round trip only.
2) The sign you have replicated the issue without actually ticketing is the seat maps being off during seat assignment. In hindsight I would have gone through seat selection however it is an
optional part "Conveniently select your seat now for a fee or choose on the airline's website later" of the checkout process and not where I should have to discover the system is actually selling me a mixed class itinerary.
3) Also the checkout pricing also often drops from a small to medium amount due to "additional savings found" when I replicate the issue.
4) Also if you don't get the upgrade offer during checkout you can go through an almost identical process by selecting flight details at checkout.






Exactly, United markets this as they provide the flight component and Priceline supplies the hotel component. As a seasoned traveler I can appreciate the nuances of how Priceline being the underlying travel agent for the whole package means I paid Priceline however this is clearly a United branded experience. I'll be filing a complaint with United corporate for deceptive marketing practices under the United brand, in addition to Priceline directly.

https://packages.united.com/wl/about/



The class of service under flight details in my experience always defaults back to economy if you select "flight details" on the confirmation page. Every time you return to this page you have to reselect a higher class of service from the options. The class of service on the individual segments does not update on this page, all you get is confirmation later in the process that you have successfully booked into "first or business" for the outbound and return.
Thanks for the additional details.

Yep, you've been "Pricelined." Kind of like being "Bonvoyed," except low-rent. I have massive experience with Priceline. Their customer service is even worse than Expedia, believe it or not.

There is no way the actual hotel cost was double retail. They've divided up the package incorrectly. It could be due to a software glitch, incompetence, or greed. Or all three.

Can't you just cancel the whole thing for a full refund, and start over from scratch? (And thanks for warning everybody about the lameness of this product.)
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Old Jun 12, 22, 8:14 pm
  #39  
 
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For what it's worth, I've booked probably a half-dozen Expedia packages with J fares, and they all worked fine. And I've never found a Priceline package that was a better deal. They were pretty good when I had to cancel a package during Covid. I actually got the whole price back in either credits or refunds, and it only took about 2 hours on the phone over one year.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 8:52 pm
  #40  
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Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
Can't you just cancel the whole thing for a full refund, and start over from scratch? (And thanks for warning everybody about the lameness of this product.)
This in not one of the offered options at this time, hence the thread title alas.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 9:08 pm
  #41  
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
I have SDCed on a bulk fare. Takes an agent to do it, but most certainly possible.
In my case, after multiple calls, a delay was finally posted, and then it wasn't really a SDC. So we got what we wanted.

I just don't see the point in booking this crap.

$60 for a car transfer. When Uber would have been $20.

Etc.
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Old Jun 12, 22, 11:09 pm
  #42  
 
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Originally Posted by firemandan9 View Post
This in not one of the offered options at this time, hence the thread title alas.
You have more patience than I do. I would have charged back already.

They sold you a flight that was not as advertised. And you don't want it. And obviously you don't want the hotel without the flight. So a chargeback of the whole amount is clearly warranted.
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Old Jun 13, 22, 5:16 am
  #43  
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Originally Posted by ani90 View Post
This experience reinforces to me why I would not buy a 'package' vacation from United, or indeed from anyone. Much easier to handle flight issues when kept separate from everything else.
This. Over the last 30+ years of flying, from time to time I've looked at these package "deals" and rejected them every single time, because I've always been able to get a better deal by booking my flights separate from my lodging.
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Old Jun 15, 22, 5:10 pm
  #44  
 
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What I'm most interested in is how Priceline is selling tickets to Washington, VA, whose nearby airports seem to be grass strips.
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Old Jun 15, 22, 6:00 pm
  #45  
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That's probably from an FAA or IATA publication, they have a confusing time with how they define the state/county/city an airport is in vs serves.

The city served is Washington, the airport is in Loudoun county, and since those are in different states what do they say for state? Flip a coin, either way is wrong.
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