I was perplexed (and admittedly annoyed) yesterday when the United Airlines website was selling seats on a flight that every agent claimed they could not book and some could not even find. One called it a “fake” flight. Was it a mysterious re-positioning flight that should never have been offered for sale in the first place?
Mysterious United Airlines Flight One Agent Called “Fake” And No One Could Book…
With the exception of its increased point-to-point Florida operations during the pandemic, United Airlines primarily offers flights that to/from one of its U.S. hubs (or former hub in Cleveland) to destinations around the country and world.
Yesterday, like every day this summer, was a total mess at Newark. A friend got stranded after arriving from Vienna and trying to transfer to Pittsburgh. His flight was cancelled and the next flight was cancelled, leaving him on a deep standby list for the one remaining flight of the day that was still operating.
Looking at united.com, I noticed another option–a strange one. He could fly from Newark to Pittsburgh via…Providence, Rhode Island?
I could have booked it on united.com ($1733) or using miles (103K) but he had an existing ticket from PIT-EWR so I told him to ask a lounge agent to rebook him on this routing. The flight was showing on time departing Newark and it would be the same aircraft continuing from Providence to Pittsburgh.
The agent could not see the flight. So I called United. The first agent I spoke with saw the flight but said it was under airport control and that she could not book it on her end. I found that strange, since I’m not aware of that limitation for United reservation agents.
I sent my friend up again to speak to a different club agent and he got the same response. I called again and this time the agent could not even find the flight.
How odd. The agent did rebook him on the Providence flight and then told him to “head to the gate. They’ll help you.”
“Head to the gate. They’ll help you.”
Famous last words…
The gate agent for the Providence flight had no idea about the Providence – Pittsburgh flight and said he could not book it. He called it a “fake” flight and said it would not really operate.
For good measure, my friend went to the club once more where he was told this flight does not exist. When he showed them the flight was for sale on united.com, the agents called it an error.
So what exactly happened to UA3287? Well, it operated.
I don’t know that there were any passengers on it, though. It may well have been a re-positioning flight considering all the cancellations yesterday.
But it was offered for sale for hours on united.com and I doubt that my friend would have been turned away had he been successful in scoring a confirmed seat.
United was offering a unique flight from Providence to Pittsburgh yesterday for sale on its website, but no airport or reservations agents could book it. Whatever the issue prohibiting the booking was, there were a lot of Pittsburgh folks stranded in Newark yesterday and plenty of seats on the Newark – Providence – Pittsburgh flights that could have brought people home.