The lack of holds on united.com is making my life tough

As most of you probably know, United eliminated the ability to hold tickets on united.com back in May. I saw where they were coming from to a certain extent, but it was frustrating nonetheless. Now it’s even more frustrating.

I have some travel I need to book, and I might even take a few flights I didn’t need to take thanks to the double EQM promotion announced this evening. When I need to go somewhere and I have a bit of extra time on my hands, I like to make the routings a bit more complicated than they have to be (shocker, I know), and I have quite a stack of bump vouchers I’d like to use. In the past it was very simple. I would put the itinerary on hold on united.com and go to the airport the next day to ticket.

Now I have to call United to hold the ticket, and then go to the airport the next day to ticket. Usually it’s not a big issue, but the following scenario can get annoying: “Yes, I’m trying to go from Tampa to San Diego via Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, returning via Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, and Washington Dulles.” Do you have any clue how long it takes an agent to price out that itinerary, not to mention the amount of scorning we’ll get once in a while, or off the wall (rude) comments we get? I’d like to remind everyone that United sets the fares and creates the fare rules, not me.

Then there’s another issue: Let’s say I’m just trying to go from Tampa to San Diego via Washington Dulles. Both flights have “L” class available individually, but when “married” only have higher fare classes. The easy workaround is to book it online via multi-city, but when you call reservations it’s not so much fun: “Sir, I could get fired for doing that, it’s called tampering with inventory.” I typically respond with “OK, I changed my plans. It’ll be on a multi-city itinerary. I’d like to travel from Tampa to Washington on the 26th, and then Washington to San Diego on the 26th as well.” The response is usually “Sir, I can’t book it that way.”

Anyway, you get my point. It’s annoying. If it were easy to book this with an automated system I wouldn’t care, but it’s not that simple for complicated itineraries.

Comments

  1. One trick that I’ve found to work is to enter a bad credit card number. (I have a Citi credit card that allows me to create virtual account numbers; I just set the credit limit to something like $10) United.com will come back and ask you to enter another number, but if you look in “My Itineraries,” the reservation is now on hold!
    One caveat I’ve heard – apparently they will sometimes retry the credit card charge with the on-file credit card number, so don’t enter one in your profile.
    This way feels slightly sketchy to me, but without the hold button, I don’t have many options.

  2. The real complaint here isn’t the inability to hold an itinerary, it’s .bomb’s overal lack of functionality. You should be able to use a travel credit to pay for a reservation on the website. It’s truly pathetic that you can’t.

  3. @Gary — and all the carriers that do let you use a voucher on the website also require that it be used only for yourself. And because it’s online, they have the technology to enforce it. NW/DL/CO for sure. (Can’t say about AA.)

    Be careful what you wish for and / or complain about. I’m more than happy to go the airport to ticket given the flexibility UA gives us with vouchers.

  4. @Lucky – Are you calling the 1K desk to do this? If so, don’t. Sometimes deliberately calling the folks in India instead is an advantage when trying to do “crazy” stuff. The fact that they “don’t care” and usually “aren’t as experienced/trained/knowledgeable” and don’t work for United directly can be an advantage. Try it out…

  5. One way to get around married segs is to book one on the 25th and one on the 26th, have it held, then call back and change the flight on the 25th to the 26th. Usually will be umarried.

  6. @Lucky — Is using United’s automated voice-driven system over the phone an option? I was able to place (an admittedly simpler) itinerary on hold this way without ever talking to a human. (If you do this, choose the multi-city option up front and ask for each leg separately, as it will only give you direct flights [if they exist] between two points.)

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