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Dealing with Customer Care for flight cancellation/delay

Dealing with Customer Care for flight cancellation/delay

Old Nov 23, 22, 6:19 pm
  #1  
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Dealing with Customer Care for flight cancellation/delay

I booked an award to BNE back in February on AC, SFO-YVR-BNE-YVR-SFO.

Departed in November but there were many schedule changes between Feb and Nov. The outbound was an ordeal as the SFO-YVR flight was delayed by over 2 hours, leaving less than an hour to connect to YVR-BNE.

I tried to get UA to find another solution and they offered an earlier SFO-YVR flight the same evening but I had checked into AC the day before departure (the delays of the AC SFO-YVR flight didn't become known until the day of departure).

Because I had checked in, UA said they could not confirm the UA SFO-YVR flight at all. So I went to SFO, about an hour away, because I couldn't contact AC at all that day, they told me they'd call back an hour later. When I arrived at SFO, the AC gate agent said I should be able to make connection.

Well as it turned out, the SFO-YVR flight got to the gate like 20 minutes before the YVR-BNE scheduled departure time. I made the connection.

But it turns out UA had held the SFO-YVR flight for me, even though I never received any confirmation that I would be on that flight. So when I didn't board the UA flight, apparently some automated system canceled the whole award reservation!

I got an email about cancellation but at the time it didn't occur to me that it affected the return flights. In fact AC sent me email to check in online the day before the original scheduled departure.

But when I tried to check in at BNE, they couldn't find my system. The agents there are contractors for AC. They tried calling Canada who said UA touched the record and they couldn't do anything. So they contacted UA somewhere in Australia and they said I could take the BNE-YVR flight in coach. Then the YVR-SFO flight would be in first.

I said no way, not for the miles I spent. The agent said there were available seats in business class. However apparently, there was no longer award inventory. The UA Australia agent said she could get me on SYD-LAX-SFO that afternoon and I said I would take that so I was figuring out flights from BNE to SYD. But after waiting 30 minutes, she came back and said they can't route me from SYD because it's too far away from BNE.

So I hung up with them and called UA on my own phone. The 1K desk was sympathetic but explained they didn't have any other options yesterday, the original departure date.

She said I could either go on coach the same date and then contact Customer Care about it after the fact.

Or the soonest she could get me a business class seat was 2 days later on the UA BNE-SFO direct flight.

I asked about the additional expenses to be incurred for staying 2 additional days -- hotel for 2 nights near the train station with the Airlink train to the airport is about $450 plus meals and other expenses.

She said again contact Customer Care but only AFTER I've taken the return flight.

So I'm trying to understand how this works, do I call a special number or call the regular number and ask for Customer Care?

Is there a way to send a written request for reimbursement, since they'd want me to document anything?

Or do they just vaguely talk about Customer Care compensating me in some sense but in practice, they deny reimbursement requests for expenses incurred because of circumstances that I had nothing to do with?
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Old Nov 23, 22, 6:36 pm
  #2  
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I am not sure you will get full reimbursement here. Write to CS with much less detail and see what they offer.

You should have probably not messed with the outbound; AC is on the hook to re-book you with day of travel irops. You can also un-check-in ... that should have released the segment. You also ignored the ticket cancellation Email.

I'll split the blame 50/50
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Old Nov 23, 22, 6:45 pm
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Sorry for what you went through.

Typical airline incompetance. United was not legally allowed to cancel your reservation. Under Canadian law both UA and AC should have accomdated you in Business class.

You should file a complaint with the CTA for UA cancelling your ticket and for AC refusing to offer you business class. In a case like this under Canadian law you were entitled to be rebooked on the next available flight in your ticketed cabin.

Don't expect much in terms of compensation as you were offered a seat in economy class but chose to leave two days earlier. They will tell you that you should have taken what was offered and then claim a refund.

This is why the US needs stronger passenger rights laws. I'm pretty certain if airlines had to pay out compensation and pay a six figure fine for unlawful cancelation of a ticket these situations would not happen.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 7:01 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
I am not sure you will get full reimbursement here. Write to CS with much less detail and see what they offer.

You should have probably not messed with the outbound; AC is on the hook to re-book you with day of travel irops. You can also un-check-in ... that should have released the segment. You also ignored the ticket cancellation Email.

I'll split the blame 50/50
About 11-12 hours before the YVR-BNE flight, I started calling. First AC, they said they would call me back in an hour. The agent told me that it's now invalid because it was under the MCT for YVR. Said that if I took a chance and took the AC flight and didn't make the YVR-BNE flight, it was my problem, I'd have to pay my way back home and they wouldn't reaccomodate me since I was made aware that the connection time wasn't enough.

When I got to the airport the AC agent at SFO told me a different story so that is why I boarded.

So initially my concern was about not getting to BNE that day, where I had other flights, hotels and cars already booked, too late to cancel.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 7:12 pm
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Originally Posted by stevendorechester View Post
Sorry for what you went through.

Typical airline incompetance. United was not legally allowed to cancel your reservation. Under Canadian law both UA and AC should have accomdated you in Business class.
What? The passenger had called UA and requested space be provided on the UA SFO-YVR flight, despite this being A/C IRROPs, then never confirmed that held space was cancelled back out when they actually made it on the A/C flight. All of which is visible in the UA reservation (the "issue confirming space because you checked in to A/C" has nothing to do with reserving a flight, that is a ticket reissue error because you can't reissue a checked in coupon). Then ignored the "your reservation has been cancelled" email after that turned extra segment turned into a no-show and waited until the airport on the return to try and resolve it? I'm not saying UA bears no fault with their system autocancelling/agent leaving the unused segment in there, but as cfischer says this is at best 50/50, the passenger needs to take some initiative to give the airline an opportunity to fix the problem they created in advance, not wait until the airport and somehow expect there is going to be an extra business seat available. This is a 2 second fix if you call within a reasonable time of getting the no-show cancel notification.

OP, Take it as a learning point not to ignore an email telling you your reservation has been cancelled. Also if someone tells you they have revenue J seats on their own metal available, but no award space, make them call a supervisor to convert it. UA can do anything with their own revenue seats to fix a problem if they have it available for sale still.

As for customer care. You can write in, or since it sounds like you're a 1k, if you really want to talk to someone over the phone call the 1k line and ask to talk to someone in customer care M-F 8am-430pm (obviously not tomorrow), but realize they likely won't have all the research they would need to do as opposed to it coming as an email. You'll probably looking at a service gesture for the mistake at most. If you go the CTA route as others have suggested expect a lot of push back since you requested UA hold space for you on a separate flight and never confirmed that held space was cancelled out, causing a no show, which is how the airlines are going to look at it and likely respond to any claim, not to mention UA under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations due to it being applied to the operating carrier.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 7:26 pm
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by stevendorechester View Post

This is why the US needs stronger passenger rights laws. I'm pretty certain if airlines had to pay out compensation and pay a six figure fine for unlawful cancelation of a ticket these situations would not happen.
I saw nothing in that story that required stronger passenger rights let alone 6 figure fines.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 7:26 pm
  #7  
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Why would I expect that UA could cancel the entire reservation when I took the entire AC outbound?

I never received any notice of a UA SFO-YVR flight. The agent told me he couldn't do it until I spoke to AC.

So I assumed UA flight was never held for me and that the cancellation was about the UA flight I never took.

Why is UA able to cancel the AC return flights when AC itself notified me of checking into those flights?

If they canceled the award, why wasn't any miles returned to my account? I don't see any of the 189k miles I used for this redemption being returned.

So why would I have any reason to believe they canceled the whole thing?

And why would my asking them for help to get me to BNE on time cause their system to cancel the whole award? Like I said, on the date of departure, It took 1-2 hours to talk to anyone at AC and the first agent I spoke to didn't give me any good options and led me to believe that my taking their SFO-YVR flight could lead to my being stuck in YVR, with no opportunities for redress since I boarded a flight which would result in less than 1 hour connection time at YVR.

Where do I write to Customer Care?

How do I contact CTA.

The problem is, the people at BNE are not AC agents, they're contractors. So all they could do was call a "help desk" in Canada who suggested that we contact UA.

So nobody knew about getting UA and AC to open up award space on the AC BNE-YVR flight. Certainly when I later called the 1K desk directly, I had 1 hour and 40 minutes until departure and the 1K desk agent didn't even broach the possibility of getting AC to open up award space on that flight.

She told me either take economy ticket on the long haul, with no guarantees about my getting miles back, because she said call Customer Care.

So if I took the economy ticket, how many miles would UA have returned to me?

Would that situation have been much better than incurring 2 additional days of hotel, lodging and ground transportation expenses in Brisbane?
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Old Nov 23, 22, 7:32 pm
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Thats a lot of hypothetical and who knows scenarios. Just my opinion
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Old Nov 23, 22, 7:35 pm
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
Thats a lot of hypothetical and who knows scenarios. Just my opinion

Which one, how many miles they'd return for my taking an economy seat on the long haul or how much reimbursement they'd provide for my having to spend 2 more days until they had another business ticket for me?

Like I said, they didn't return any miles when they cancelled over two weeks ago.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 9:03 pm
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The key point (from the airline's perspective) is if you skip a flight, all the down line reservations (for any carrier) are cancelled. This is practice of all airlines. Also skipping a flight negates the ability for a refund (although UA now offers this for a fee for a narrow set of circumstance) . No refunds on a partially flown award.

I am confused how AC was able to use the SFO-YVR coupon if UA had you on a UA SFO-YVR flight?
If UA did not "own" the coupon, then UA was in the wrong for cancelling.

As for opening AC award space, UA can not do that. Only AC can.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Nov 23, 22 at 9:19 pm Reason: more
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Old Nov 23, 22, 9:12 pm
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Again, the UA agent told me he couldn't put me on the SFO-YVR flight on UA until AC released the record to them.

So I had no reason to believe I was ever on that flight.

I never received email, I wouldn't know the flight number -- probably told me that day but I didn't retain it because until he told me that I was going to be on that flight, I had no reason to know.

He never told me that I was confirmed for that flight.

1K agent thinks he "held" that flight for me, even if he couldn't put it into the record, under the same confirmation number.

Someone on the AC board said AC and UA have different systems which limit what either side can do to these records. Have no idea about that.

But the same confirmation number which was "cancelled" 24 hours ago now shows the BNE-SFO return flight.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 9:21 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
I am confused how AC was able to use the SFO-YVR coupon if UA had you on a UA SFO-YVR flight?
The ticket was never reissued for the UA segment because the coupon was already checked in with Air Canada (according to the first post there was an issue getting them on the UA flight due to being checked in with Air Canada already). However the segment can still exist in the PNR (and actually has to because you need to have confirmed space before you issue a ticket for the space, especially because the 1K agent told OP they were "holding" space, which I assume OP intended to sort out with Air Canada at the airport), but when OP took the Air Canada flight as originally planned (which A/C still had a valid coupon for, since again, the coupon couldn't be pulled without undoing check in), no one ever requested that confirmed UA space be cancelled back out, causing the system to see a no show for a confirmed segment and cancel everything following as expressly detailed in the contract-of-carriage. And yes, the language there does not care about what is ticketed, it cares about what is reserved.

Originally Posted by United Contract of Carriage Rule 5
Failure to Occupy Space - If a Passenger fails to occupy space which has been reserved for him/her on a flight of UA and UA fails to receive notice of the cancellation of the reservation before the departure, or if any carrier cancels the reservation of any Passenger, UA may cancel all reservations (whether or not confirmed) held by such Passenger on the flights of UA or any carrier for continuing or return space.

Last edited by Lux Flyer; Nov 23, 22 at 9:42 pm
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Old Nov 23, 22, 9:28 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by frappant View Post
About 11-12 hours before the YVR-BNE flight, I started calling. First AC, they said they would call me back in an hour. The agent told me that it's now invalid because it was under the MCT for YVR. Said that if I took a chance and took the AC flight and didn't make the YVR-BNE flight, it was my problem, I'd have to pay my way back home and they wouldn't reaccomodate me since I was made aware that the connection time wasn't enough.

When I got to the airport the AC agent at SFO told me a different story so that is why I boarded.

So initially my concern was about not getting to BNE that day, where I had other flights, hotels and cars already booked, too late to cancel.
Next time ... just chill and get re-booked when things go wrong. There is no such thing as an MCT and an invalid connection when there is a flight delay. Being checked-in made the coupon not accessible which likely caused most of the issues. There are easy ways to solve this ...
UA will probably throw you a bone. Honestly, don't both with anything beyond that ... you are just wasting your time.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 9:37 pm
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Things are getting lost in translation between what the agent told you and/or how you interpreted it/are reporting it here

Originally Posted by frappant View Post
Again, the UA agent told me he couldn't put me on the SFO-YVR flight on UA until AC released the record to them.
...
1K agent thinks he "held" that flight for me, even if he couldn't put it into the record, under the same confirmation number.
If space is "held" on a flight for you, you have a confirmed reservation for that flight and it will get treated like any other confirmed flight in the reservation in terms of canceling the itinerary and no shows. Period. Whether your ticket allows you to utilize that confirmed space is a different story, and is the issue here. If you checked in with Air Canada that locks those coupons as ticketed. Once a coupon is put in checked in status, it indicates to the validating carrier that the operating carrier intends to redeem that coupon against the ticket value, so no one can exchange that coupon for a different set of flights unless the checked in status is removed by the operating carrier.

I've made multiple posts about this before, so I'm not going to into all the details, but this resolves around the difference between a reservation and a ticket. Both are required to fly, but are distinct components of a travel itinerary.

Originally Posted by frappant View Post
Someone on the AC board said AC and UA have different systems which limit what either side can do to these records. Have no idea about that.
Yes they have different systems. It has no impacts on the limitations on what either side can do since both systems have to comply with IATA ticketing standards.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 10:14 pm
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The predictable outcome occurred when you no showed on an outbound reservation, the remainder of the booking was canceled. That was a consideration you needed to make when you rebooked your irrops sfo-yvr but that didn't occur and left the ua flight intact. Also the canc notice went unheeded. I would have been on that instantly.
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