Trip In Vain Procedures

 

Old Aug 11, 04, 9:47 am
  #1  
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Trip In Vain Procedures

First of all a "trip in vain" is an airline jargon term referring to a trip that is so delayed that you miss out on the reason why you took the trip in the first place e.g. a trip "in vain" . Airlines have procedures to refund, issue credits, or allow future use for trip in vain type tickets.

I put that preamble in because I only personally learned of this term a couple of months ago myself..

Anyway I wonder if people know UA's official and/or unofficial procedures for handling trips in vain? How do UA's procedures compare to the rest of the industry? Is it more customer favorable to get it resolved by the airport or customer relations?

Here is my initial experience:

I booked a same-day one-ticket single roundtrip PNR from X to Y with outbound and return on the same day. The outbound from X to Y got delayed due to atc first at the gate, and then out on the air field. The X to Y flight arrived in Y too late for me to do what I needed to do in city Y and still get back to city X on the same day.

I spoke to a Y gate agent and customer service center in Y, and basically they said they would love to help, but that I would have to call customer relations. They did book me on an earlier flight back to city X, and they offered to let me stay overnight in city Y and change the tix w/out penalty.

Per trip in vain I wanted to either get a refund and still fly home, get a credit voucher for the value of the ticket, or fly home and be able to use the X to Y ticket another day (that one would have been what I preferred). My strategy for preferring that latter option would be that in the flight reprotect I could possibly be booked in a higher (Y) booking code than my low price ticket which that booking code can be hard to find on the particular city pair at the last minute.

I called customer relations, and they initially told me that the airport was supposed to handle all compensation in these sorts of situations. I got the impression that customer relations didn't even look very deeply in my record. Basically they said that they were not obligated to do anything since it was ATC but as a goodwill gesture they would send a $100 travel voucher (the ticket was slightly more than $100). I told them this would be fine. Again the person in customer relations didn't seem to know what city I was in, etc. They seemed to just have this canned speech of "airline schedules are subject to change without notice, but as a goodwill gesture we will compensate you a $100 travel voucher." Also they adv only can USPS mail a t/c, cannot email it? I thought UA had e-travel vouchers?

Then the flight from Y back to X was delayed due to atc/weather, but the weather looked fine outside, and nobody could see why. People were irate with the gate agents, and wanted to go on another airline. As quietly as I could, I said "could I get a meal voucher," and they printed out two $10 meal vouchers. Is $10 a standard amount? What gets appended to your record when they issue a meal voucher?

Then the flight from Y back to X was indeed very delayed, and I was able to get a cab voucher (about $30) back home on count of that delay.

I would say I did pretty well, but only because I was pro-active in asking for things.

Trip in vain is still pretty new to me, so I am wondering how it really works? I'm surprised the airport didn't just reissue my ticket with 3 coupons:
1=return Y to X
2=X to Y new trip; and
3=Y to X new trip return.
I have heard other airlines will do this when trips are made in vain.

But again it was a good and cheap segment run! They did fyi take out e-upgrades, I was thinking maybe for the second flight they would have op upgraded it .

Given how delays are this summer, I think this is a timely topic to understand. I heard that in the infamous summer of 2,000 they gave out a lot of travel vouchers due to delays?
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Old Aug 11, 04, 11:44 am
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How can you claim trip in vain on a milage run ??

You accomplished it seems to me what you set out to do and got your money back in the process - what else do you want?
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Old Aug 11, 04, 11:50 am
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Turned In To Mileage Run

It was not originally just a mileage run, but it turned in to one since I did not have enough time to leave the airport and attend my meeting and come back the same day. I said I was satisfied with what I got, (I can use a UA voucher just as much as a refund), but I was curious how UA and others apply Trip In Vain. E.g. do you have to be delayed a predetermined number of hours to quallify for TIV? Is TIV some kind of published rule or an urban legend? How do TIV procedures differ airline to airline?
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Old Aug 11, 04, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by jetsetter
It was not originally just a mileage run, but it turned in to one since I did not have enough time to leave the airport and attend my meeting and come back the same day. I said I was satisfied with what I got, (I can use a UA voucher just as much as a refund), but I was curious how UA and others apply Trip In Vain. E.g. do you have to be delayed a predetermined number of hours to quallify for TIV? Is TIV some kind of published rule or an urban legend? How do TIV procedures differ airline to airline?

I have never heard of this concept. I once cancelled a trip and got my money back because the outbound was delayed so much I could not make the meeting. But I think we are in "urban legend" territory here

Where are all are CofC experts when you need them
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Old Aug 11, 04, 3:06 pm
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Originally Posted by jan_az
I have never heard of this concept. I once cancelled a trip and got my money back because the outbound was delayed so much I could not make the meeting. But I think we are in "urban legend" territory here
No, Trip in Vain is a valid piece of airline jargon. When I lived in Philadelphia, one of my day business trips to BOS had the outbound cancelled. We went to the service counter and the agent put "trip in vain" as the reason for refund.
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Old Aug 11, 04, 3:43 pm
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We're Talking About Two Different Scenarios

It sounds like we are talking about two scenarios. Not sure if both are covered by TIV:
Simple Scenario 1: You have a same day trip planned from A to B. While still in city A, realizing how delayed you are, you cancel your ticket without using it. This is just a refund of a nonrefundable. They sometimes call this involuntary refund;

(more complex)
Scenario 2: As above, you actually fly from A to B. Perhaps your delay was out on the field, and you could not get off the plane. You miss your meeting or whatever you planned to do in city B, and you want to fly home, plus get a refund or credit for the trip since while indeed you took it, it was in vain. I don't think the people that invented trip in vain considered mileage runs .

The first scenario is very easily accomplished, but the second is perhaps more complex?

One time on CO years ago this happened. I was flying BOS>EWR>DCA. I did not get on a connecting flight in EWR and I would have ended up in DCA very late. So they sent me back to BOS, and wrote out handwritten ticket coupons for future date travel
BOS>EWR>DCA and returning DCA>EWR>BOS. I suppose this was an example of a trip in vain, but the agents never used that term or any kind of jargon to themselves when doing it, and I even got a print out of that PNR and there was no jargon about it.
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Old Aug 11, 04, 8:31 pm
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I've had this happen on several occasions when I used to do day trips from ORD to DCA or LGA. Mostly due to winter weather - the plane couldn't take off from ORD or couldn't land at destination. I didn't know it was called a TIV?
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Old Aug 11, 04, 8:45 pm
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Ex- CS agent here...never heard of "Trip in vain." (Heard of many that fit this category, but it is not a common airline term. "Flat tire rule" is common airline term. Most of the time, I have seen agents waive all rules and let you return from an intermediate point, and let customer relations deal with the details, as nowhere in the contract of carriage is any such thing mentioned. COntract is to fly from point A to point B, and nowhere is on time even insinuated. On the other hand, good costumer service in bad situations is important, to imply that this provision exists in any written form is not a true statement. Who would the airline compensate more...the person who bought a $198 ticket to get to their wedding/ funeral that get missed, the business person who paid $1000 to get to the meeting that may influence a $100 million deal, or the couple on a 2 week cruise out of LA that's first port of call is 3 days out?

The contract does not care about what you are doing at the destination, the contract only cares about getting you there (and tries to do it as booked.)

Sorry it didn't work out though...souds like you rolled with the punches pretty well though.
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Old Aug 11, 04, 10:16 pm
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I also would like to know what the rules are supposed to be. I had a bad experience back in 2000, actually with UX (presumably ACA) at IAD.

I was supposed to fly out for the weekend for a birthday party. I showed up a little under an hour before my late Friday flight and proceeded to the gate to check in. The agent says to wait a few minutes because the flight might be canceled due to weather. After about fifteen minutes I return to the counter and ask what the status is. He then says the flight is oversold and he cannot check me in; he gives me a departure management card. Departure time comes and goes; within a half hour word comes down that it is officially canceled due to weather.

All United flights are booked solid through Monday (!), so they try to accommodate me on other airlines, which are of course full as well. Since the first available flight leaves Sunday around 7pm-- when I should be boarding my return (talk about trips in vain)-- I ask for a refund. The agent says I can request one on the phone and to step aside so he can assist the numerus people in line behind me.

I go home and call United and guess what? The rep says I never checked in for the flight, and it was a nonrefundable fare, so I am not entitled to a refund. I say I have a departure management card that says I was at the airport and tried to check in, well before the flight was closed. He says it confers no legal rights to me, it is not a boarding pass, I am a no-show. Well, I about blew my stack. I calmed down enough to call back about twenty minutes later and got a different rep who did issue me a refund, which was only a couple hundred bucks anyway-- but considering this was an out of pocket leisure trip, the experience was enough for me not to fly United for two years and ensure none of my friends did either.

Last edited by choster; Aug 11, 04 at 10:19 pm
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Old Aug 11, 04, 10:40 pm
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Choster,
Wow! The DM card thing and reply from res must've really pushed your buttons! (It would have made me flip my lid) Unfortunately, res (at least back then) had no access to the airport checkin system to see that you were on the DM list. Instead of being so terse, they (if they couldn't confirm or deny that you had checked in) should have at the LEAST have bumped you up the red-tape ladder to customer relations the next day (assuming they were closed at this time) where they could see the checkin history.

I'm glad that you didn't accept their initial lack of knowledge at face value (how could you?!?) and give up there.

Long story short...the CS agent was most likely only "gate qualified" and didn't have much skill at ticketing/refunds. Brushing you off was weak. I can see them try to help the masses with what they could, instead of delaying them all in a vain attempt at processing a refund that they (he/she) were not qualified to do. UAX agents were never trained in any ticketing transactions as a rule of thumb, (UA has been trying to change this, and has improved in this area greatly) and sent people to the UA counters at the hubs for refunds.

Beyond a whole refund for a completely unused ticket, whatever UA were to do for you would be pure "good will". Once you turn that ticket in for a refund, you also turn in your link to anything the contract of carriage entitles you to. No ticket=no rights.

It stinks that an airline's (UA's or anyones for that matters) contracts have no provisions or liability for failing to operate a schedule...I guess if they did, prices would have to increase to cover the additional liability.
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Old Aug 12, 04, 12:41 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by fastair
It stinks that an airline's (UA's or anyones for that matters) contracts have no provisions or liability for failing to operate a schedule...I guess if they did, prices would have to increase to cover the additional liability.
Why on earth do you keep insisting that UA's (and other airlines') Contracts of Carriage have no provisions for this??? Have you ever actually looked at UA's Contract of Carriage? Here is a link to it (in .pdf format):

http://www.united.com/ual/asset/Cont...age_042907.pdf

I call everyone's attention to the section titled "Failure to Operate on Schedule or Failure to Carry." Note in particular, under "Schedule Irregularity," the reference to "Rule 260 (refunds - involuntary):"

If UA is unable to arrange alternate air transportation acceptable to the passenger, UA shall refund the flight coupon(s) for the unflown portion(s) in accordance with Rule 260 (refunds - involuntary).
I won't cut and paste the whole section here right now, but the bottom line is that United DOES promise certain things in the event of schedule delays, provided they are United's fault, as opposed to force majeure or other causes.

It's pretty sad that airline employees are apparently fed the BS that airlines promise ONLY to get passengers from point A to point B, but not necessarily on a schedule, when in fact their contracts of carriage DO make provisions for delays under certain circumstances.

Anyhow, if jetsetter can take a look at this, and wade through all the paragraphs of legalese, perhaps he will find the answer to his original question.
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Old Aug 12, 04, 4:43 am
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Sorry Kath I think I must not have presented clearly.
I didn't say he wasn't entitled to a refund....in fact i specificly mention that it was sad that UAX was unable to perform this. I said there is no additonal compensation given for missing the reason for the trip, making the trip useless. Involuntary refund is something that I am vwey familliar with, yet I think that isn't what the OP was refering to.
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Old Aug 12, 04, 5:52 am
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Update

I was happy to either get a refund or a UA travel voucher which I did get. The $100 travel voucher plus the meal and cab voucher = the amount of the original ticket. Interesting that you say that airport CS was told to have the pax contact customer relations for a voucher or refund. Where as when I called customer relations, they told me the airport was supposed to "compensate you" themselves. I would imagine the airport has the ability to issue the travel vouchers which would make the process easier and less time consuming, and I imagine since the vouchers are electronic that they append to the PNR from which they are issued to generate a paper/compensation trail on the record.

Incidentlaly I first heard the "trip in vain" term from US Airways. I called them to clarrify there procedures. E.g. I said what if a pax flew from BOS to LGA and got to LGA so late that they were going to miss whatever they were going to do in LGA. The rep said that as long as it was clear that the pax got on the next plane out of LGA back to BOS (in other words they did not go in to the city for a short while) they would issue a trip in vain refund even though both flight coupons were "used," since you just went to LGA in vain and had to go right back to BOS without leaving the gate or airport.

I'm sure trip in vain (or whatever each airline calls it) is normally only done if the pax brings it up. I'm sure it is not often volunteered.

But again for people that take east coast short one day trips it could be something you want to get familiar with because right now there are major delays almost evry day this summer on the east coast.
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Old Aug 13, 04, 9:30 am
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Thanks for the explanation, fastair. Obviously, I got over my UA aversion, and I can't say I've gotten a "we're the phone company, we don't have to care" attitude since the bankruptcy. Gunning for them now, especially after a recent Delta flight...
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Old Aug 13, 04, 6:31 pm
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Originally Posted by fastair
Who would the airline compensate more...the person who bought a $198 ticket to get to their wedding/ funeral that get missed, the business person who paid $1000 to get to the meeting that may influence a $100 million deal, or the couple on a 2 week cruise out of LA that's first port of call is 3 days out?
I think the person who missed their own funeral due to the airline's delay.
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