Up until yesterday I thought I had seen it all when it comes to itineraries with issues. While we’d like to think that codeshare flights and alliances translate to a smooth travel experience, that often isn’t the case.
Take yesterday, for example. I received an email from a reader that was flying roundtrip in a couple of months from a city (we’ll call it XYZ) to IAD via ORD both ways. He booked all the segments as US Airways codeshare flights, but all the segments were on United metal. So the itinerary looked like this:
So what was the issue? Well, everything looked good on US Airways’ website, but his issue was that the United website wasn’t displaying the first segment of his trip, XYZ-ORD. All other segments showed as normal. Kudos to him for being so vigilant.
At first I assumed it was a united.com glitch, and I would have just left it at that had the segment been on US Airways, but since the segment was on United as a US Airways codeshare, I decided to give United a call. At first they told me everything looked fine with the itinerary.
I asked them specifically about the first segment, XYZ-ORD, and they said that they didn’t see him booked on that flight. After looking at the schedule it was apparent that there was a schedule change on the itinerary. This flight had changed flight numbers and was now leaving about 20 minutes earlier. No big deal, right? Well, the agent told me they sent that information over to US Airways about two weeks ago, but US Airways never accepted the changes and reissued the tickets. I said, “well it’s clear that there was a communication gap between United and US Airways, so can you go ahead and reconfirm him on that flight?” The response was “Sorry sir, this flight is actually sold out now.”
This is where it always gets fun. On one hand I feel bad being overly-l0gical to the agent because it isn’t their fault, but at the same time I secretly enjoy breaking it down as far as possible so that they can explain to me how such a thing can happen. So at that point, our conversation went something like this:
Me: “Well, then maybe you could open up space for him.”
Agent: “Unfortunately we’re not able to do that, the flight is sold out.”
Me: “This is clearly an issue between United and US Airways. What exactly could he have done differently? Thank God he checked his itinerary, because no one else notified him.”
Agent: “I understand sir, but this is US Airways’ fault.”
Me: “But that’s outside of his control. You choose to work with US Airways both as a codeshare partner and Star Alliance partner, so this is something the airlines should sort out between them. He’s essentially being involuntarily denied boarding two months out here.”
Agent: “Sir, we’d be glad to put him on any other flight, even on a different day.”
At this point I decided to leave it as is and advise him of the situation. Maybe he could benefit from a date change.
But I’m sorry, I’ve dealt with so many itineraries, and this is the downright strangest thing I’ve ever seen. And yes, I’ve seen a lot of strange things, from being denied boarding on Singapore Airlines because United didn’t reissue a ticket correctly to a plethora of other things. What made this particularly egregious is the fact that the flight was sold out, and we’re two months out! So a huge mistake was made, totally outside of this guy’s control, and worst of all they’re claiming they can’t fix it.
Hopefully he’ll get a good resolution to the issue….