I got a call from 1-800-United1 yesterday while I was on another line and sent it to voice mail. A recorded message was left and I figured it was just an upgrade notification for my flight to SFO on Friday. When I listened to the message, though, I found it was the Manilla call center telling me there had been a schedule change on my brother’s award reservation.
If you recall, I made an identical but separate award reservation for my brother and me last month for a post-Christmas trip to China. United’s Manilla call center finalized both of our awards during a week of limited StarNet blocking when I was able to grab two transatlantic Lufthansa flights in first class.
Something went awry, though, and I don’t know whether to blame United or Lufthansa. After finalizing the award reservation I received e-mail confirmations for both itineraries from UA. My reservation remains intact, but after the call from Manilla yesterday I pulled up my brother’s reservation and was shocked to see that both Lufthansa flights had been dropped from the itinerary. Furthermore, the LH record locator number indicated that the LH flights had been cancelled.
Yesterday was already a busy day, but I got on the phone and immediately called UA. At this point, I still feel more comfortable dealing with the ICC than with a U.S. call center, and was connected to an Indian agent. Rather than hanging up until I got Manilla, I explained the problem and he said he could see the cancelled flights on the reservation and did not know why they were cancelled.
He put me on hold and came back 45 minutes later and proudly proclaimed that he had restored my itinerary. I asked him to read me back the flights and while he was able to get my brother back in first class on the Chicago-Munich Lufthansa flight, he put him on a United flight from Frankfurt to Chicago.
I told him that flying on UA was unacceptable and asked him nicely to get the Lufthansa flight back that had been confirmed for nearly a month. He argued with me for a moment that United’s first class product was great and I should stick with that, but finally relented and put me on hold again.
An hour later he came back and said that LH refused to re-instate the ticket. He claimed he made multiple calls to LH and blamed them for the ticketing mix-up. After two hours on the phone, I figured there was nothing else I could do at the present moment and signed off after instructing him to document in the reservation that I was not satisfied with the resolution.
I’ve been too busy today to call back but will give UA another ring tomorrow. I have a feeling that the MNL agent who completed the reservation somehow did not confirm the flights properly, but it seems strange that I wouldn’t be notified of the problem until almost four weeks later. I check award itineraries often and my brother’s LH flights were still intact last week.
Gary provided some helpful advice and alternate routing options, which may be easier than fighting UA to get the original routing back, but I am not ready to give up the fight yet. Tomorrow I will call again and see if I fare any better. The FRA-ORD flight is a 744 and LH still has multiple first class award seats available to their Miles & More members. Surely a sympathetic LH agent could release one of those for my brother…
I’ll let you know what happens. There’s a lesson in this: monitor your award reservations daily. It had been over a week since I last checked the reservation. Perhaps I could have avoided a headache by catching the cancellation the day it happened and grabbing the first class seat that theoretically had been sent back to the Star Alliance award inventory.