40 Replies Latest reply: Jan 11, 2015 3:22 PM by iahflyr RSS

United stumbles again...

ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
Currently Being Moderated

I am convinced United is run by morons. United obviously doesn't understand the concept of bad publicity. Nothing like starting lawsuits that the media will obviously be aware of and making the general public aware of a practice you don't like and until now a relatively small group of people were doing. I can maybe see why Orbitz would pair with them but in all honesty, trying to stop a practice a few people use that you "lose" a pretty small amount of money on, will now be used by a much larger group of people even if the lawsuit is successful. The airlines will stick it to customers every chance they get, but when customers use totally legal means in order to book fares, they throw a tantrum like a child.

 

Why is United Airlines suing a 22-year-old? - Dec. 29, 2014

 

A young computer whiz from New York City has launched a site to help people buy cheap plane tickets. But an airline company and its travel partner want to shut him down.

United Airlines (UAL) and Orbitz (OWW) filed a civil lawsuit last month against 22-year-old Aktarer Zaman, who founded the website Skiplagged.com last year.

 

The site helps travelers find cheap flights by using a strategy called "hidden city" ticketing.

 

The idea is that you buy an airline ticket that has a layover at your actual destination. Say you want to fly from New York to San Francisco -- you actually book a flight from New York to Lake Tahoe with a layover in San Francisco and get off there, without bothering to take the last leg of the flight.

This travel strategy only works if you book a one-way flight with no checked bags (they would have landed in Lake Tahoe).

It's not like these tickets are the cheapest all the time, but they often are.

 

In the lawsuit, United and Orbitz call Skiplagged "unfair competition" and allege that it is promoting "strictly prohibited" travel. They want to recoup $75,000 in lost revenue from Zaman.

 

Zaman said he knew a lawsuit was inevitable but he points out that there's nothing illegal about his web site.

He also said he has made no profit via the website and that all he's done is help travelers get the best prices by exposing an "inefficiency" in airline prices that insiders have known about for decades.

 

"[Hidden city ticketing] have been around for a while, it just hasn't been very accessible to consumers," Zaman told CNNMoney.

 

Indeed, "hidden city," ticketing is no secret among frequent fliers, said Michael Boyd, President of Boyd Group International, an aviation consulting firm in Evergreen, Co. Boyd worked as an American Airline (AAL)ticket agent 30 years ago, and says he was trained at the airline to help customers find "hidden city" fares.  "I don't think it's illegal what he's doing," Boyd said. But lawsuits are expensive and it could end up costing the young entrepreneur who has irked the two billion dollar corporations.

Airlines usually offer cheaper fares for some destinations that are not regional hubs, Boyd said. Many of these flights are routed through more popular destinations. But if a lot of people take advantage of that discrepancy it could hurt the airlines, which is why they want to shut him down.

 

Thoughts?  IAHFLYR, erc, profchiara, vaboywnder, kharada46

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  • Re: United stumbles again...
    pluto77 Alumni Steward Platinum 25 Reviews
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    You didn't ask for my opinion, but I'll share it.  DUMBEST THING EVER.  If an airline is going to offer multiple fares, there's nothing keeping a consumer from purchasing the cheapest fare.  UAL doesn't have a "wheel to roll on."

     

    I have purchased round trip tickets that were - without exaggerating - less than half the cost of a one-way ticket, with the intent of only executing the outbound segment and abandoning the inbound segment.  There is nothing to stop me and why wouldn't I if it's less than half the price?  There is a small clause that says that if I don't execute the inbound flight that I could be charged the one way fare, but that has never happened.  And do you know why it has never happened?  Because for legal purposes (as well as good business sense), they can't actually hold me liable for not executing a flight segment!  And consider the reverse... If I purchase a round trip ticket (regional), and then say later I want to move my outbound up by a day or two, but don't want to pay the exorbitant change fee or the exorbitant last minute new ticket price, to get around it I decide I'll train to my destination on the early outbound and then fly the inbound segment back, guess what?  If I am a no show for the outbound segment, the airline will cancel my inbound ticket, even though it's bought and paid for (and nope, no miles are earned either).  So if they can game me when it's advantageous for them to do so (steal my money and my inbound seat just because I don't want to be taken to the cleaners by them), why can't I game them when it's advantageous to me?

     

    Oh, now there you've gone and got me started!

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    • Re: United stumbles again...
      ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      I agree 100%. If a fare system is an extremely confusing and impossible to predict that isn't my fault. If I want to book a one way flight, and fares are much cheaper if booked a certain way, there is nothing illegal or immoral in doing so. If a one way is $1000, and a round trip is $600, guess what, I am going to book the R/T knowing I wont use the return flight. Airlines stick it to consumers at every turn, using their own ridiculous pricing systems against them is totally acceptable.

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    • Re: United stumbles again...
      californian Platinum 37 Reviews
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      I have done this too.  The last time I saved $600 by booking an additional segment and not flying it.  On TV they said the airlines do try to charge the flyer if you go to cancel that segment.  I was just a no-show.

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      • Re: United stumbles again...
        clebert Platinum 21 Reviews
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        I booked a one-way on United but now have to change my schedule.  The one-way was $176.  To change the flight, there is a $32 additional charge for the new flight, along with a $200 change fee, so $232 to change my flight and use my original one-way ticket.  Or, I can book a completely new one-way ticket for $182.  True story!

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        • Re: United stumbles again...
          iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
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          clebert,

           

          I'd take the loss on the ticket and save it to use with a more expensive ticket later, yes you'll still have the change fee to absorb.  There is just something wrong with a change fee that exceeds the price of the original ticket, guess that's why I've stated looking at the less restrictive fares of which some you can find for not much more than the lowest restricted fare.

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          • Re: United stumbles again...
            ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            United stumbles yet again! Geez they just can't stay out of the news. First the lawsuits, then the SFO smiley face FA firings fiasco, now this....wow....

             

            Of course United says its the contractor and the contractor says its the weather. Well both excuses are poor. Weather issues are not a daily thing and its been going on for WEEKS, and it may be the contractor's fault but United should be OVERSEEING them. So yes United it still is your fault.

             

            United passengers complain of baggage woes in Denver

             

            United points to a switch in ground-handling vendors in Denver. In September, United said it would terminate its contract with SkyWest Airlines for below-wing ground baggage handling at Denver. At the time, United said the switch to a new contractor would "allow us to run a more competitive operation."

             

            As for that new contractor -- Simplicity Ground Services -- it has blamed the troubles on the crush of holiday fliers during the period as well as several rounds of bad weather, according to WPVI TV of Philadelphia.

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            • Re: United stumbles again...
              gm1 Gold 1 Reviews
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              I read the article in the Denver Post yesterday morning.  According to the article, baggage is piled up all over the place.  What a goat rope!  The airport authority has offered to help United since their latest misstep is negatively effecting Denver International Airport's image.  The advice to take away from article is that if you are flying into Denver or routing through, it might be wise not to check any luggage.  

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            • Re: United stumbles again...
              clebert Platinum 21 Reviews
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              I waited 45 minutes on the jet bridge for my gate-checked hand baggage at DEN in December.  Oh, and it was -5 degrees out!  Luckily, DEN was my destination so I didn't miss a connecting flight like others on my plane did.  But I was late to a dinner that evening in Denver.  And, yes, they made us check our carry ons at the gate because there was insufficient overhead space!

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              • Re: United stumbles again...
                ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
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                Wow...that stinks.

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            • Re: United stumbles again...
              iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
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              And this is why I do NOT like to check luggage.  I was forced to check my golf clubs (they frown on them in the cabin) when I went to Puerto Vallarta for a golf tournament in early December.  They arrived just fine in PVR, but when we got back to IAH I breezed through Customs/Immigration with Global Entry only to have to wait 40 minutes for the clubs to arrive on the belt.  Their baggage service guy told me it was because clubs are an over sized item yet numerous others showed up much earlier than mine.  I figured out the real reason when they arrived, it had "PRIORITY" on the tag which certainly worked.

               

              The best part of the article regarding DEN I thought was this and they even lied about it:

               

              "We apologize to our customers for not meeting their expectations in this matter,"


              I firmly believe they did meet the customer expectations as isn't this what UA customers and most airline customers have come to expect?

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          • Re: United stumbles again...
            clebert Platinum 21 Reviews
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            If I call United, can I "cancel" my current flight and get credit for a future flight?  It's not a refundable ticket (obviously not at that price).  I have not had this problem before!  My company is paying for this fare, but I don't want to waste my company's money or have my expense report questioned!  Or maybe better to just pay the change fee?  I think that is what you are saying!  Thank you for the help, by the way!

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            • Re: United stumbles again...
              iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              clebert,

               

              You shouldn't even have to call them, just cancel the reservation in your online account. Once you do that you can find it in the "Manage Reservations" section under the "Cancelled" tab so when you decide within a year to rebook it you can select that cancelled reservation and make the changes as you like, again you'll then have to pay the change fee whatever amount it might end up being.  Or if you feel better about calling them to cancel it they will do it for you which then should put it right into your MileagePlus account same as if you did it yourself.

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              • Re: United stumbles again...
                clebert Platinum 21 Reviews
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                Thank you!  I will try that right now!

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              • Re: United stumbles again...
                clebert Platinum 21 Reviews
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                Thanks!

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  • Re: United stumbles again...
    erc Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    What do I think of this you ask? I think young Mr. Zaman is going to find out that being right is overrated. I think he's going to have a miserable next few months, if not years, fighting the bullies.

     

    I read about this around Thanksgiving and thought, "oops, he sure pushed the wrong button".

    As has been observed, this technique is most likely (I'm not definitive, because I'm not a lawyer) not illegal and is actually being practiced by many. However, like card counting in casinos (which is not illegal), the "house" does not like it and will smack you if caught. I have read of frequent fliers losing miles over this.

     

    There are certain things, like Fight Club, that we just don't talk about .

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  • Re: United stumbles again...
    iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    You ask what I think, well on this last day of 2014 where I've flown a number of segments on UA I have to agree with ks77, UA is run by morons.  I won't go into our last flight home on them this year which turns out is our last flight on them this year, I will leave that for a smashing start to UA bashing early in 2015.

     

    I too believe Mr. Zaman will learn an unfortunate lesson from this adventure.  As for the thought of not flying a segment after having paid for it and they cancel the remainder of the reservation, I'm fairly sure that is written in the small print someplace if you can dig it out. 

     

    As for the "hidden city" ticketing there is one correction to what Mr. Zaman has written and that is if you get off in SFO and not continue on the last leg of your flight the airline Should take your luggage off the flight as by law they are to match bags with pax. 

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    • Re: United stumbles again...
      jerryl Platinum 2 Reviews
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      Well the airlne is trying to get you to pay the most and passenger  is trying to pay the least so to me if you can find a cheaper approach take it . By the way the airlines keeping with the premise of getting you to pay the most charge you 200 to make a change and the higher fare so where's the justice in that

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    • Re: United stumbles again...
      pluto77 Alumni Steward Platinum 25 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      In my case with the no show outbound segment cancelling out the inbound segment, the way to get around it is to book two one way tickets (average price $79/one way), that way I can simply walk away from one segment if I need to (and I have on occasion since done it this way).  The flip side is if I have to postpone or change the entire trip, then I'm hit with two change fees, a case of 'be careful what you ask for.'  They have us over a barrel, all of them (well, except maybe for these guys, the kinder, gentler airline - who incidentally does not service my "fine city"),

      SW.png

      in which it becomes all about risk assessment.

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      • Re: United stumbles again...
        iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
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        LOL, nice pic and yes I do recall your cancelled trip......one way baby solves the problem.

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      • Re: United stumbles again...
        jerryl Platinum 2 Reviews
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        that's why I have been flying SW a lot more. Since I don't get upgraded anymore I find the major airlines don't offer much to me

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  • Re: United stumbles again...
    bejacob Platinum 38 Reviews
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    Even normally peaceful monks lose their cool when dealing with United

     

    http://news.yahoo.com/monk-loses-temper-dealing-with-united-airlines-customer-service-215146047.html

     

    What is the world coming to?

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    • Re: United stumbles again...
      ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
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      United is just not a very good airline. I fly them maybe once a year now and usually on miles. I just keep seeing way too many instances of them dropping the ball in regards to customer service.

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      • Re: United stumbles again...
        bejacob Platinum 38 Reviews
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        I'm giving them a chance again in March. My last experience with them was fine, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

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        • Re: United stumbles again...
          iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
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          Our last trip home on them was one where I have to say really peeved (family station) to be kind.  Flying from a HUB as EWR you'd think on a Saturday evening they'd have a few spare planes around so if the had to swap one out for maintenance they could without impacting the flight schedule.  Well NO......they had to fly a plane in from IAH to get us.  More on that in another thread one day as I'm still "peeved" about the entire experience, so much to the point when I fly to RSW later this month I looked at DL and AA, but the travel time didn't make sense to spend almost six hours of time on them rather than less than two on UA.......but time is coming when I will avoid them like the plague.

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          • Re: United stumbles again...
            ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
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            Please fill us in! I want to hear more!

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            • Re: United stumbles again...
              iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
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              I'll just say Gilligan had nothing on us with the length of the tour. 

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              • Re: United stumbles again...
                ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
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                United in the news again....it seems they just can't get their dirty laundry from hitting the news...

                 

                United workers fight firing over security concern

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                • Re: United stumbles again...
                  iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
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                  That's a most interesting discovery on the tail of the plane.  Wonder how long the delay was or if the flight was cancelled as I didn't see it in the article unless I missed it.

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                  • Re: United stumbles again...
                    ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
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                    It was cancelled. That's the kind of nonsense I would expect on a flight I was on

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                • Re: United stumbles again...
                  iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
                  Currently Being Moderated

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                  • Re: United stumbles again...
                    ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
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                    I personally think it's kinda stupid. I see their reasoning, I just don't really agree that it will add revenue for them. I also foresee increased boarding times. I like Delta as a carrier but with their new 5 levels of award redemption, now even more levels of coach, it is getting out of hand. What ever happened to, coach gets you 34 inches of seat pitch and a reasonable recline, and FC was great service on a really comfortable seat? Now its 31 inches of seat pitch and sometimes surly, unhelpful, and indignant FAs.

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                    • Re: United stumbles again...
                      iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
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                      And it will only get worse I fear.

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                • Re: United stumbles again...
                  kharada46 Alumni Steward Gold 10 Reviews
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                  ks77, didn't realize you posted the story already! 

                   

                  Here's another one that I think IAHFLYR will find particularly interesting:

                  United turning customer care over to lawyer

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                  • Re: United stumbles again...
                    ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
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                    No worries! Yes I literally read the article 20 mins ago...it sounds like exactly the course of action you would expect from United. The even scarier part is the guy leaving and going to Hertz is being brought on to maximize revenue. Just as the author says, you can only imagine what that means but almost certainly is bad for Hertz users. Luckily I use Enterprise and Budget. I have BCD codes through my employer that I usually get quite good rates with so it will not affect me. I always find Hertz to be the most expensive and I have only used them once. Oddly enough, it was at PIT and the car they gave me wasn't that great. A white honda accord that had a nice scrape on the front bumper. After that, I had no reason to run back to them.

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                    • Re: United stumbles again...
                      iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
                      Currently Being Moderated

                      I have actually found Hertz rates to be higher than Avis most times, but I have found a AMEX and Baby Boomer's 50 Plus Renters rates (yes for us geezers) that have worked out fairly well when compared to my normal car company Avis.  Of course within about 10 days from the rental with Avis I can usually snag a lower rate than the special Hertz rates.

                       

                      With these former UA folks going to Hertz I wonder if they'll start charging to use the trunk for luggage as a checked bag fee?

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                      • Re: United stumbles again...
                        ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
                        Currently Being Moderated

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                    • Re: United stumbles again...
                      kharada46 Alumni Steward Gold 10 Reviews
                      Currently Being Moderated

                      lol!!  Agreed ks77 & IAHFLYR!  For my purposes, Hertz is consistently about 25-50% higher than my usual Alamo and Enterprise.  I'd never rent from Hertz! 

                       

                      I think checked bag fees are possible! 

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        • Re: United stumbles again...
          ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          I know I bash them a lot, but most of my experiences were from 2010-2012. I now fly them about once a year and usually EWR-DTW or EWR-ORD and the past couple trips have actually been pleasant. My last United experience was EWR-DTW on an ERJ145. I have to say, while that plane is obviously small, we left on time, the FA was pleasant, and we landed on time. Since it was only a weekend trip and I carried on, no luggage issues either. Good luck!!!!!!

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  • Re: United stumbles again...
    kharada46 Alumni Steward Gold 10 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hey ks77!  How's this gem?  United workers fight firing over security concern

    Fire all 13 flight attendants because they refused to board a flight due to security concerns... last time I checked, ensuring the security of a flight is part of the flight crew's duties.  Good going UA!  Which is worst?  This or Nutgate over in Korea??

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  • Re: United stumbles again...
    iahflyr Platinum 26 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Here they go again showing absolutely ZERO customer service.  Just found this on Loyalty Lobby:

     

    Canceled United Airlines flight and rebooked for two days later:

    I’m sorry to bother you – I saw your blog online wondering if you can help me. I had a flight booked with UA from Houston to London in August and due to technical issues our flight was canceled and we were not put back on for two days.

    We stayed in a hotel for two nights paid for by UA and were given around $7 per meal which as you can imagine didn’t even cover half a meal at an airport or hotel which were the only place that accepted them. I’m from England and they are aware of this and they’ve now given me a $300 UA voucher valid for a year which is no use to me as all UA flights from the UA are more than treble this! So essentially they’ve handed me a ‘25% or less of your next ticket’ voucher.

    I’ve complained and said I either want a full air fare or the money or them to find me a flight from the UK that covers this and they have brushed me off. I don’t want to plow lots more money into UA which is what they are ensuring by giving me such a small voucher when they are fully aware of my location. I was expecting a voucher to cover at least 80% of my airfare (any airfare im not fussy). Anything I can do? Would much appreciate your help.

    You should have known for you rights in case United cancels your flight. They could have put you on any other carrier or carriers with or without connections that had availability to your final destination and they should have done just this. They often won’t, however, unless you explicitly request it.

    The customer service with United Airlines is in the toilets and I would encourage you to file a complaint with Department of Transportation consumer protection unit (you can do it here online). United tends to take these complaints more seriously than the ones that you sent them by email.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

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