Two hours less sleep and a headache thanks to United!

Hey, there’s no hiding that I love United, which is why I do my best to rag on them every once in a while to be fair and balanced. 😉

I posted in the past about United’s lovely schedule change for my “regular” flight, the morning Tampa to Washington Dulles flight. I loved the 9AM departure since I could at least sleep in a little bit and it connected well to virtually any flight. As I blogged about, they decided to change the departure time to 7AM, getting into Washington at around 9AM. That flight has connections within two hours to…. nowhere!

Anyway, that’s old news. What’s not old news is that I’m flying five segments tomorrow, ending on the west coast. Best 0f all, every one of my upgrades cleared, which means that it should only cost me five “500 mile” mile upgrade certificates (the upgrade currency United uses). You see, when all upgrades clear before you check-in, United only charges for the direct air distance between the origin and destination, as opposed to segment-by-segment. So if you’re flying Tampa to Washington to San Francisco for example, you’d only pay five “500 milers,” since the direct distance between Tampa to Washington is less than 2,500 miles, while it would otherwise cost seven (two more Tampa to Washington and five for Washington to San Francisco). When you’re doing five segments that’s quite a difference.

So I went to online check-in fully expecting to pay five “500 mile” upgrades, but instead was asked for nine. This was a first for me, since I’ve never had any issues with online check-in. I called up web support and was on hold for 30 minutes. After holding for that long the polite agent came back and asked me what exactly my issue was. I quickly realized that an outsourced agent wasn’t going to understand what my issue was (which wasn’t her fault, she just wasn’t trained properly).

I then called up Mileage Plus to confirm that “500 mile” upgrades are deducted based on the direct distance if they clear before check-in. The “in the know” agent confirmed they were, but said there was nothing she could do until after the fact. Usually I wouldn’t have an issue with that, but I’m running low on “500 mile” upgrades and needed the rest for the return. I had expected to pay five in each direction, and since I had 12 total, it worked fine. But if I’m asked for nine on the outbound and five on the return, I’m out of luck. She basically told me (in a nice way) to pound sand.

So then I called the 1K desk. After trying to explain to her the situation for 20 minutes (admittedly, it’s not a simple issue), she agreed with me and put me on hold. After ten more minutes she came back and indicated that a service director agreed with her, but there was nothing they can do. She said they both put a note in my record indicating that I should only be charged five instead of nine, and that I should point that out to the agent at check-in tomorrow morning. She said if they have any issues they should just call the support desk and they’d sort it out.

So not only is my flight two hours earlier, but I’ll actually have to get to the airport super early to deal with my delightful morning “crew” in Tampa.

Do the agents at the counter even have the ability to “manually” pull less than the system requests?

I can already tell this will get interesting. Gosh, if only I were leaving later in the day….

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Having fun tomorow, my MCO-LAX flight at 6:50 (used to be 7:30) went from open up front to full w/misconnects. Getting ready to deal with Y on DL for the first time in YEARS.

    HOWEVER, there is hope, supposedly the flight is “heavily” oversold so I will go for the bump but instead of getting there at 6:20, I’ll be there at 5:30. 🙁

  2. RE: Do the agents at the counter even have the ability to “manually” pull less than the system requests?

    Yes, I once had a similar problem at LAX and the agent was able to deduct the proper number of e500s.

    An amount comes up on the screen, say 9 e-500s in your case, but they can manually override it before they execute the withdrawal.

    Strange that the computer is asking for that many e500s unless you are connecting through the same city twice…

  3. Lucky, you wrote So if you’re flying Tampa to Washington to San Francisco for example, you’d only pay five “500 milers,” since the direct distance between Tampa to Washington is less than 2,500 miles, while it would otherwise cost seven (two more Tampa to Washington and five for Washington to San Francisco).

    Isn’t that a typo? I think perhaps you meant So if you’re flying Tampa to Washington to San Francisco for example, you’d only pay five “500 milers,” since the direct distance between Tampa to San Francisco is less than 2,500 miles, while it would otherwise cost seven (two more Tampa to Washington and five for Washington to San Francisco).

  4. I’ve had some major check-in issues lately. Finally, something worked in my favor. I’m on 892 right now from SFO-JFK. For my MR, PDX-SFO-JFK-IAD-TPA-ORD, I only had to use 4 500s. It worked out perfectly!

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