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Can I get VDB vouchers after the flight? I was denied boarding.

Can I get VDB vouchers after the flight? I was denied boarding.

 
Old Jul 2, 11, 6:00 am
  #1  
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Can I get VDB vouchers after the flight? I was denied boarding.

Last night I was flying SEA-ORD (UA), ORD-CLE (CO), all on one 016-stock ticket.

A SEA check-in agent told me that my seat was badly needed and VDB'd me on the spot. He rebooked me on a CO nonstop and tried to print $400 in VDB vouchers. Just as he was wrapping up the transaction, his boss came over and yelled at him, told him that the flight was not badly enough oversold, and told him to undo the transaction.

I was OK with that; I asked to get on the VDB list for my original first segment, which was still oversold and not for sale, and got ready to head to the gate.

"Just one more thing," the UA agent said: I was no longer checked in with CO for ORD-CLE and would need to ask them to put me back on the flight at their counter. When I checked in at the CO desk, the agent complained that UA hadn't properly reticketed the trip after changing it, vanished for 20 minutes, and returned with a new boarding pass on the CO nonstop SEA-CLE, which was not the boarding pass I had asked for!

It evolved that she had cancelled my SEA-ORD, ORD-CLE segments entirely and reticketed me on SEA-CLE. I said that I wanted to be on the SEA-ORD and she called the UA desk, who told her that this was the only ticket I was going to get. (Perhaps because my SEA-ORD was oversold and was no longer for sale?) I would have pressed further but time was a factor -- it was now 10:30 p.m., the SEA-CLE departed at 10:50, and the SEA-ORD departed at 11:23 p.m. (And I thought arriving at 9 would be fine!)

I feel snookered here. An agent offered me $ to give up my seat, his boss undid the transaction, and then after some coordination failure, I ended up giving up my seat anyway and getting nothing in exchange. I did not want the nonstop but was told it was my only option.

I wanted to be on my original routing -- I prefer UA's redeye service and like many of the crew, I prefer to get the extra miles, arriving any earlier than 8:30 a.m. causes a big inconvenience for my ride out of CLE, and I would rather spend extra time in ORD and on a plane than in Hopkins. But I felt like I didn't have enough time to guarantee I'd make it onto that flight.

It seems to me like they ended up taking my seat. How do I get the vouchers I was offered if they ended up taking my seat?
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Old Jul 2, 11, 8:51 am
  #2  
 
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You were snookered, but I don't see any way to get the vouchers.

(1) You and UA never had an agreement of $400 for the routing change. The supervisor nixed that.

(2) If this was an IDB situation (how can it not be, since you never had an agreement for volunteering), the airline got you to your destination within 1 hour, so legally owes you nothing.

You might write 1kvoice complaining about how you were treated - changing a passenger's itinerary out from under him is not very nice, even if it's legal. I expect you'll get $200.
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Old Jul 2, 11, 11:16 am
  #3  
 
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You should be able to get ORC by writing into MP. Perhaps that's a small consolation?
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Old Jul 2, 11, 11:21 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by unavaca View Post
You should be able to get ORC by writing into MP. Perhaps that's a small consolation?
I don't think ORC is the OP's main concern; he/she is going after the $400 VDB credit.
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Old Jul 2, 11, 12:02 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
You were snookered, but I don't see any way to get the vouchers.

(1) You and UA never had an agreement of $400 for the routing change. The supervisor nixed that.

(2) If this was an IDB situation (how can it not be, since you never had an agreement for volunteering), the airline got you to your destination within 1 hour, so legally owes you nothing.
This. IDB compensation = $0. Why should they cough up the vouchers?
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Old Jul 2, 11, 12:05 pm
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
You were snookered, but I don't see any way to get the vouchers.

(1) You and UA never had an agreement of $400 for the routing change. The supervisor nixed that.
No lawyer year, but isn't their a contract? OP volunteered, the GA who is presumably authorized to enter into a verbal agreement (no written contract since the DBC certs had not printed yet) as a representative of UA offered the OP $400 in exchange for some other routing. What cancels this out? The Sup who voids the verbal contract before the services (new routing) are provided?
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Old Jul 2, 11, 3:43 pm
  #7  
 
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I'm not a lawyer, but I would find it hard to imagine that if the facts are as described - including a supervisor saying "no, we won't do that" - someone would walk away from the counter thinking they had an agreement. The last thing they heard from UA (which is also the message from the person highest up the food chain) was "no" and they have the BP for the original flight in their hand.

As I said, I think the OP's strongest argument is that this is lousy customer service. Was UA's only choice to bump a 1K? Might they have found a better way to let him know than to find out at the CO desk? You can even toss some "what if's" in there: what if he got to the SEA-ORD gate, got the beep, and was then told, "Sorry - we put you on SEA-CLE, and by the way, that left a half hour ago."? And we all know what a letter to 1Kvoice means - a $200 cert, whether it's for one too few ice cubes in a drink or for UA selling one's children into slavery.
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Old Jul 3, 11, 1:12 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
I'm not a lawyer, but I would find it hard to imagine that if the facts are as described - including a supervisor saying "no, we won't do that" - someone would walk away from the counter thinking they had an agreement. The last thing they heard from UA (which is also the message from the person highest up the food chain) was "no" and they have the BP for the original flight in their hand.
Yup - when I left the UA counter, I did not have the impression that I had been VDB'd.

I thought I was confirmed in my original seat on SEA-ORD + ORD-CLE, that I just needed to go get checked in for ORD-CLE, and that since my SEA-ORD was still oversold and the UA GA had put me on that flight's departure management VDB list, I would try at the SEA-ORD gate to be VDB'd.

I was willing and happy to take my preferred, original flight and to work within the UA system that I understand quite well to try to get VDB'd off of it if circumstances allowed. But I was not expecting the outcome that happened instead! My frustration is that I tried to follow the rules, I tried to do what was most convenient for the agents, and I ended up feeling like I had been treated unfairly and somehow tricked out of VDB compensation that UA might have given me.

Separately, it's been mentioned that if I was IDB'd, I was owed $0 since, after all, I arrived earlier. Makes sense. I wonder: is UA allowed to IDB passengers before it has solicited and exhausted all available volunteers?

Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
As I said, I think the OP's strongest argument is that this is lousy customer service.
I don't want to complain too hard because I have a lot of respect for the folks at the SEA check-in desk -- having interacted with many of them, many times, I've been consistently impressed by the skills and friendliness of many of the agents.

It wasn't germane to the story above, but the CS experience here was with agents I hadn't interacted with much before and felt a little bizarre. Specifically, I didn't recognize the agent who VDB'd me, or the service director who literally took the $400 printed coupons out of his hand and, right in front of me and throughout the next few minutes, berated him for "using the wrong printer, you know that one doesn't work well", "doing this booking all wrong", "taking a volunteer, you know we don't need any more", and more.

The agent didn't take this abuse lightly -- he reacted just as aggressively (if a little more passively): "This doesn't make any sense", "She can't just tell me to take volunteers and then change your mind and not tell me", "I'm doing what she tells me but I don't want to", "She must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed today", ..., it felt really weird and a little unprofessional to see an agent and his boss not getting along in front of customers.

I'm no "One Minute Manager" or "Crucial Conversations" expert, but these did not appear to me to be very healthy interactions.

I try to keep a thick skin because I understand that customer-facing jobs are difficult, some days more than others. I understand how the agent and his boss might have felt about each other and the job that day. But it appeared that there were some serious interpersonal problems between these agents and I have no way of knowing how that affected the treatment I got as a customer.
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Old Jul 3, 11, 2:09 am
  #9  
 
 
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I read your post last night, and once you left the counter it was too late.

You got screwed.

I guess the best thing you can do now is write in to customer relations and hope for an e-cert.

-David
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Old Jul 3, 11, 8:58 am
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
I wonder: is UA allowed to IDB passengers before it has solicited and exhausted all available volunteers?
They are supposed to ask for volunteers. But maybe they did. If they posted a "we are looking for volunteers" notice on the TV while you were fixing the ticket with CO, haven't they met that obligation?

You might not want to complain, but it looks to me like the only hope to get something, and it's all but certain that we know what the something will be: a $200 cert.
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Old Jul 3, 11, 9:06 am
  #11  
 
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I think the SkyMiles fairy will give you $200 and 12,500 skymiles if you write in.

Whoops this isn't DL... sorry ignore that
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Old Jul 3, 11, 12:19 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
Last night I was flying SEA-ORD (UA), ORD-CLE (CO), all on one 016-stock ticket.

A SEA check-in agent told me that my seat was badly needed and VDB'd me on the spot. He rebooked me on a CO nonstop and tried to print $400 in VDB vouchers. Just as he was wrapping up the transaction, his boss came over and yelled at him, told him that the flight was not badly enough oversold, and told him to undo the transaction.

I was OK with that; I asked to get on the VDB list for my original first segment, which was still oversold and not for sale, and got ready to head to the gate.

"Just one more thing," the UA agent said: I was no longer checked in with CO for ORD-CLE and would need to ask them to put me back on the flight at their counter. When I checked in at the CO desk, the agent complained that UA hadn't properly reticketed the trip after changing it, vanished for 20 minutes, and returned with a new boarding pass on the CO nonstop SEA-CLE, which was not the boarding pass I had asked for!

It evolved that she had cancelled my SEA-ORD, ORD-CLE segments entirely and reticketed me on SEA-CLE. I said that I wanted to be on the SEA-ORD and she called the UA desk, who told her that this was the only ticket I was going to get. (Perhaps because my SEA-ORD was oversold and was no longer for sale?) I would have pressed further but time was a factor -- it was now 10:30 p.m., the SEA-CLE departed at 10:50, and the SEA-ORD departed at 11:23 p.m. (And I thought arriving at 9 would be fine!)

I feel snookered here. An agent offered me $ to give up my seat, his boss undid the transaction, and then after some coordination failure, I ended up giving up my seat anyway and getting nothing in exchange. I did not want the nonstop but was told it was my only option.
I'm assuming you already have the SEA-ORD boarding pass in your possession? When CO presented the new boarding pass, I would just decline and walk back to UA gate to tell the agent to fix the issue. Once you hand over that boarding pass, there's not a whole lot for you to leverage for negotiation.
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Old Jul 3, 11, 5:20 pm
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by PTahCha View Post
Once you hand over that boarding pass, there's not a whole lot for you to leverage for negotiation.
True, but there seems to be a culture among some CSR's that the first thing you do when handed a BP is destroy it. Then print a new one if necessary. The OP may have gotten one of those.
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Old Jul 4, 11, 3:03 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by PTahCha View Post
I'm assuming you already have the SEA-ORD boarding pass in your possession? When CO presented the new boarding pass, I would just decline and walk back to UA gate to tell the agent to fix the issue. Once you hand over that boarding pass, there's not a whole lot for you to leverage for negotiation.
I do still have the SEA-ORD and ORD-CLE boarding passes (I printed a set at home), although I was told that they weren't valid and weren't backed by any ticket.

Two guesses whether my return segment (on CO) is valid for OLCI. CO agent: "United states that you'll have to do your check-in at the airport, but it is a valid ticket. Your upgrade cleared, but I can't see what seat you're in. Your record is totally out of sync. [pda.continental.com shows a seat assignment for me]"
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Old Jul 4, 11, 7:42 pm
  #15  
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It is interesting how this one developed... anyway, I agree with others that there's not much the OP could get, besides writing to customer relations to get probably $100 e-cert.
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