United Nightmare for Wife and LapChild

Old Jun 22, 2024, 6:23 pm
  #1  
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United Nightmare for Wife and LapChild

I've flown alone or with my family almost everywhere internationally/domestically (US) and had the absolute worst experience yesterday. I'm not sure what to do. Any advice?
  1. My wife had a one-way ticket to fly on Saturday morning from RIX to IAD via FRA with our 11-month-old. She noticed on Thursday that the baby was not on the reservation and asked me to add the baby. I made the request through the 1K texting line, as I had done before when we needed to move the baby from my ticket to hers in the past, and this change was confirmed. The baby also showed up in the app and website on my wifes reservation. On Saturday, when she arrived at the Lufthansa (LH) desk, since the first leg of the trip was on their airline, she was told she didnt have a ticket. She was also prevented from checking in online using the United App.
  2. She called me in a panic, and I conferenced in the United Airlines 1K line. While the representative was sympathetic, every time she needed to check with her manager or talk to support, we were put on hold for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. First, the representative suggested that there shouldn't be a problem, then talked to support. Then came back and gave us the ticket number, and the LH desk said it was throwing errors - passenger conflict. The UA rep then talked to the LH desk over my wifes phone. Then the representative talked to support again and said that the baby wasnt added correctly, and that the agent who had added the baby failed to charge me the taxes. She asked if I wanted to pay the taxes now, I said yes, and she texted me the code to approve payment with my card on file. However, while she was doing this, the initial flight was closing its doors, and my wife couldnt make the flight.
  4. I then noticed that, about 2 hours later, there was another flight to FRA that would allow my wife to catch the second leg (she had a 5-hour layover initially). It was on a different airline - Air Baltic - but one that both UA and LH commonly use to complete our trips back and forth to RIX.
  5. After speaking to support/manager, the representative said that she could do that, but would need to rebook the entire reservation and that the cost (we had paid for this with miles) would be an additional 220k miles. My wife and I protested that we shouldnt have to pay this penalty because it was a result of UAs error.
  6. After speaking to her manager again, the representative said her manager claimed it was our fault because we didnt call them soon enough for them to fix their error. We both protested this to the representative - my wife had spent 40 minutes at the LH desk trying to solve the issue and then was told to call UA and we had already spent another 40 minutes on the phone with them. On this point, the representative said she agreed with us and would try a different manager.
  7. When she got back to us again, she was still unable to do anything - it would still be another 220k charge to us to fix this error. I suggested that my wife just walk up to the Air Baltic desk and book the flight to FRA with cash, and could the representative fix my wifes reservation so that the FRA-IAD segment would still be active. I would then try to fight UA later about recouping the cash price of the Air Baltic flight to FRA.
  8. My wife then got in line at the Air Baltic desk. However, our original flight allowed 3 checked bags included, and bags that were allowed to have above the standard weight limit. These bags would potentially be too heavy for Air Baltic and wed also have to pay fees to get them to FRA, and then have to leave security to get the bags and go back through security. Further, my wife, with the baby and the carry-on stroller (it folds to fit in the overhead), is not physically capable of carrying the baby, her backpack, the stroller, and 3 heavily packed bags.
  9. The representative told us that because Air Baltic was a partner airline, they would check the luggage all the way through to Dulles if we showed them a FRA-IAD ticket, so my wife proceeded to wait in the line.
  10. However, as we suspected, the representative was wrong: Air Baltic said this was impossible because the tickets werent coupled on a reservation.
  11. At this point, my wife gave up and rebooked another trip for several days later, causing very serious problems for her work project. Altogether, this situation also put her under tremendous stress and messed up the babys sleep schedule, which was carefully planned around the flight schedule. It also messed up my work and travel schedule because I had planned around to pick them up at the airport and now had to reschedule all of that.
  12. I also have not been credited back the 87,800 miles + $76.60 from yesterdays flight that we could not take due to UAs error.
What do you suggest I do? Whats most infuriating is that UA had the chance to fix it by booking her on the Air Baltic flight after their mistake, but then instead blamed us for the mistake and tried to charge us a same-day price to fix it.

I've been a great customer for them - 1k for 3 years running, already qualified for next year, and I put several million per year through their credit card in business charges. They shouldn't treat any customer this way no matter how much business they give them, but I'm feeling especially betrayed here.

Edit: before the 'you should have booked the kid in the beginning' people show up, yes, I know this it the preferred method, and that answer doesn't really help me now.

Last edited by WanderingWanderer; Jun 22, 2024 at 7:33 pm
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:02 pm
  #2  
 
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First of all, welcome to Flyertalk.

Did you copy the text from elsewhere? The font is smaller than usual. Putting that aside, some questions:
1. Did the baby show up on the LH side after being added?
2. On the UA side, after you added the baby, was there a new ticket number?
3. What do you want from UA?
4. Where specifically do you feel that you were mistreated? Just bullet point 6 or elsewhere as well?
5. Any travel insurance?

Once you've figured out what you want, you have several options. You can call UA customer care, you can email them (via the 1k line), or you can file a DOT complaint. Regardless of what you do, you should trim down the complaint quite a bit. I will leave it to the EC261 experts to determine if this is eligible for additional compensation.

With regards to Air Baltic, they operate a number of wet leases for LH and co, but they are not a UA/LH partner.
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:08 pm
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Welcome to FT!, WanderingWanderer
Sorry for your travel issues

A couple of questions -- This was an award ticket, had a lapchild ticket at purchase or not until just prior to travel?
Late booking of the lapchild ticket can cause problems. Did your wife ticket number change?

You decided on your own to use Baltic Air?

When you say "representative in #9 -- was this a UA phone rep or some airport rep (where?) same as "representative" earlier in your note?

To get the miles back (if eligible) will require a request unless it was properly cancelled. And then it may take a couple of days

AIr Baltic can not be booked as an award flight / with UA miles. And UA will not purchase a cash ticket to replace an award ticket.

Suspect all of this will come back to the original lack of lapchild ticket and issues adding it at the last minute.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Jun 22, 2024 at 7:14 pm
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:16 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by angetenar
First of all, welcome to Flyertalk.

Did you copy the text from elsewhere? The font is smaller than usual. Putting that aside, some questions:
1. Did the baby show up on the LH side after being added?
2. On the UA side, after you added the baby, was there a new ticket number?
3. What do you want from UA?
4. Where specifically do you feel that you were mistreated? Just bullet point 6 or elsewhere as well?
5. Any travel insurance?

Once you've figured out what you want, you have several options. You can call UA customer care, you can email them (via the 1k line), or you can file a DOT complaint. Regardless of what you do, you should trim down the complaint quite a bit. I will leave it to the EC261 experts to determine if this is eligible for additional compensation.

With regards to Air Baltic, they operate a number of wet leases for LH and co, but they are not a UA/LH partner.
Thanks for your questions. To answer the first one, I ran it through an AI to check my grammar before I posted it here so I will try to edit it to fix the font.

1) I never had the opportunity to check the LH side; on the UA side it did show the baby in the app on our account where it usually shows up. We wouldn't ordinarily check the LH site - haven't had reason to - but I guess this needs to be a precaution in the future.
2) We did not get a ticket number until we were given one by the UA representative when we called; and LH had no record of it.
3) I want them to return the miles from the trip we couldn't take, I want an apology, and I want them to retrain their staff so this doesn't happen to anyone else again (where I was told that the baby was added by their 1k Texting agent - I can't share a screen shot because I'm too new here.) I would also like some kind of compensation but it's hard to imagine what this should be.
4) The issue was that the flight for my wife (and all of my plans) were ruined and caused us a serious level of distress, work disruption, and a general waste of time because they didn't add the child correctly. Them trying to tell us it was our fault was kicking a man while he was down.
5) Not unless it came with the United Credit Card I paid the taxes with.

Appreciate your insights.
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:17 pm
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Having worked in the Baltics RIX is nightmare trying to deal with IRROPS or bad ticketing.

VNO IS reachable by ground and is much better option.
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:28 pm
  #6  
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Thanks for your reply and your welcome. Here are answers to your questions:

Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Welcome to FT!, WanderingWanderer
Sorry for your travel issues

A couple of questions -- This was an award ticket, had a lapchild ticket at purchase or not until just prior to travel?
Late booking of the lapchild ticket can cause problems. Did your wife ticket number change?
I added the lap child on Thursday, travel was Saturday morning. As the UA representative indicated, the issue was caused because they didn't charge me the tax when adding the child. This messed up my wife's ticket per UA (LH only got a bunch of errors). While I am very aware this isn't the preferred way to do it, I have done it before when I needed to move the child from my reservation to my wife's or vice-versa without incident, and the UA 1K texting agent confirmed the child was added and the child did show up on the reservation as a lap baby.

Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
You decided on your own to use Baltic Air?
When it was clear my wife was going to miss the original LH flight to FRA, I found a AB flight that would get her to FRA on time. I was willing to pay cash at the counter for the ticket, but then the baggage became the issue, despite the UA representative saying it wouldn't be an issue.

Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
When you say "representative in #9 -- was this a UA phone rep or some airport rep (where?) same as "representative" earlier in your note?
Yes, thanks for your careful reading. That is the UA representative.

Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
To get the miles back (if eligible) will require a request unless it was properly cancelled. And then it may take a couple of days
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
AIr Baltic can not be booked as an award flight / with UA miles. And UA will not purchase a cash ticket to replace an award ticket.
I do not disbelieve you, though this is was the UA representative said to us (and they do use air baltic as a partner of some kind when booking for cash for the last leg). It's more of a side matter, however. As we learned, this was all ruined once they refused to let my wife board because they didn't add the infant correctly.


Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Suspect all of this will come back to the original lack of lapchild ticket and issues adding it at the last minute.
The UA Representative admitted on the phone the issue was caused not by the last minute addition, but because the UA 1K Texting agent didn't charge me taxes, and admitted it was UA's fault. This would not have been resolved had we added the child a week in advance as opposed to 48 hours in advance.


Originally Posted by LaserSailor
Having worked in the Baltics RIX is nightmare trying to deal with IRROPS or bad ticketing.

VNO IS reachable by ground and is much better option.
Yes, I generally find the RIX very difficult. All the bureaucracy of the Germans but the efficiency of the Soviets.

I was able to google IRROPS but I cannot find an explanation for VNO IS, however. Please explain?


Last edited by WineCountryUA; Jun 22, 2024 at 7:41 pm Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:33 pm
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Vilnius, in Lithuania. Sorry if got the code wrong.
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:34 pm
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Originally Posted by LaserSailor
Vilnius, in Lithuania. Sorry if got the code wrong.
okay but what is IS?
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:37 pm
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Originally Posted by WanderingWanderer
Yes, I generally find the RIX very difficult. All the bureaucracy of the Germans but the efficiency of the Soviets.

I was able to google IRROPS but I cannot find an explanation for VNO IS, however. Please explain?
They were referring to the Vilnius airport in Lithuania -- about a 3.5 hour drive from Riga....
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 7:45 pm
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Originally Posted by LaserSailor
VNO IS reachable by ground and is much better option.
Originally Posted by WanderingWanderer
okay but what is IS?
That was not an abbreviation, but inadvertent or confusing capitalization. It should read "VNO is reachable by ground . . . ." If intentional, the capitalization could have been intended for emphasis, although boldface text serves the purpose much better, with far less confusion.
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 11:03 pm
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Originally Posted by WanderingWanderer
I added the lap child on Thursday, travel was Saturday morning. As the UA representative indicated, the issue was caused because they didn't charge me the tax when adding the child. This messed up my wife's ticket per UA (LH only got a bunch of errors). While I am very aware this isn't the preferred way to do it, I have done it before when I needed to move the child from my reservation to my wife's or vice-versa without incident, and the UA 1K texting agent confirmed the child was added and the child did show up on the reservation as a lap baby.
OK, so none of this sounds correct. Is this, perchance, your first lap child booking on an international ticket?

I ask because the tax isnt really the point: a lap child on an international reservation is also charged 10% of the adult fare. Since your wife was on an award ticket, thats going to be 10% of the current cash fare at the time that you added the child, so, depending upon class of service from the miles involved, Im guessing business hundreds or thousands of dollars. Domestically, lap children are free, and you can just add them the way that you describe, and its no big deal. International flights are different. So while you say several times that this was Uniteds mistake, I suspect youd have been nearly as angry if theyd charged you properly.

Air Baltic does operate some flights for Lufthansa group under a wet-lease arrangement, but those appear as LH/LX/OS/etc. flight numbers. Trying to book an actual Air Baltic flight was, unfortunately, not going to end well.

Long story short, you attempted a very risky change adding a lap child to an award ticket issued by one airline for travel on another and did not follow up with the operating carrier to make sure things were ticketed properly. You also failed to note that you were not charged, which should have been a red flag (unless you were assuming that the US domestic policy applies). And then your wife arrived too late at the airport to fix the mess, which it seems was on its way to actually being corrected.

I realize that this isnt what youre hoping to hear, but I think its the stark reality of the situation. Mistakes happen, particularly with something this complicated. There were many points at which this mistake could have been corrected, but UA is essentially a self-service airline, and you did not do your due diligence.

You ask what we suggest but it seems what you want is an apology, which, if you get, wont be sincere, and retraining, which you wont get. You could try filing an EC.261 complaint European regulators love to blame airlines for things but youre not going to get any extra compensation for the stress. A refund for the unused ticket should be possible, and if you ask nicely they might waive the redeposit fee for a no-show. But you have to ask for it it wont happen automatically.

BTW Im also a 1K, and I promise, Im not that important to UA. None of us are.
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Old Jun 22, 2024, 11:53 pm
  #12  
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Anecdotally, I've found the texting agents to be much less capable than the phone agents. The most complicated thing I trust them to do is a new seat assignment. Anything beyond that I wait to talk to someone.
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Old Jun 23, 2024, 12:56 am
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Originally Posted by angetenar
Regardless of what you do, you should trim down the complaint quite a bit.
General rule for any complaint. Personally I stopped reading OP after the second numbered point and I doubt any customer service agent will read through that all. There has to be one thing that is being complained about that can be summarized in a paragraph - if not then very hard to effectively convey one's message.
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Old Jun 23, 2024, 1:38 am
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The complaint needs to be cut down but the rest of the context is useful for here to preempt the various follow up questions the OP would have gotten anyway.
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Old Jun 23, 2024, 1:48 am
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FYI - The fare for a lap infant should have been around $440. Is that what you paid? If not, UA messed up.

Seems likely UA incorrectly ticketed the lap infant. I'd ask for my miles back and some compensation for the inconvenience as a voucher or miles. They may cover some incidental expenses - e.g. taxi to airport, etc. UA will not do anything else.

Check if travel insurance covers any of the expenses.

In your complaint leave all the other stuff out. So in short:
- UA incorrectly issued the infant ticket causing my wife to miss her flight and requiring her to rebook days later. Please provide me with a refund and compensation of xxx.
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