For the three people reading this that don’t browse FlyerTalk between the hours of 2AM and 5AM (east coast time, that is), United just eliminated online ticket holds, which totally sucks. Holds are incredibly useful when trying to apply vouchers to tickets, be they paper vouchers or electronic vouchers. This change is going to cost me (and in turn United) quite a bit of time. In the past I would put itineraries on hold and then ticket them via web support (since I book many roundtrips using the multi-city tool) using an e-certificate. Now I’ll have to call web support and waste their time as they piece together my itinerary.
So why would United make this change? Well, I’m guessing it comes down to ticket holds screwing with inventory management a bit too much for their comfort. In the past you could only hold one of the same flight at a time, but as of late you can hold several seats on the same flight for the same person at the same time. I can see how this could be potentially problematic, especially on the smaller planes where inventory is tightly controlled. Along the same lines, I’m guessing somewhere in United’s thought process was the fact that people were holding itineraries and waited to ticket until the price either dropped or went up to determine when to ticket. Given that United recently got rid of the ability to refare, I’m guessing that was a consideration for them.
While the old system might have been too generous, there has to be some compromise. Why not go back to allowing one hold per flight, or something similar? This decision is bad for consumers and bad for United.