United made a mistake and we had to pay for it.

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Jun 12, 2017
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You guys are probably bored of hearing about airlines making mistakes these last few months but here is another one! thank you in advance for even taking the time to read this! Buckle up for a novel.

We were flying across the US for a wedding, when a sudden death in the family forced us to divert to another state on the way.

We called up United to see what the changing fees would be and to our surprise the agent said "You can book another flight one way to the new location and then just change the original flight's departure city to leave from there for free." We were really thankful since we were going through a tough loss at the time even though we thought it was weird that there was no fee (we asked twice to confirm). We received the changed itinerary and booked a one way flight to the funeral.

A day after the funeral we got to the airport to leave for the wedding and were told we needed to pay $378pp (which is more than the original) to get on the flight because we hadn't paid it yet. We had seats, confirmation email about the changes and everything. The agent at the desk called United and they were told we couldn't get on unless we pay the fee but that they might also cancel the rest of the reservation if we miss the flight. If we had known it'd be cheaper to just fly back home after the funeral and then fly out on the original flight without changes we would have. When we told them this we were met with "There's nothing we can do, our agent made the mistake."

After an hour of trying to reach United ourselves and discussing our situation with the desk, we missed our flight. When we checked our app they had cancelled our flight home as well. We finally got them on the phone and they gave us our return flight back but said there's nothing they could do about the other one. They offered us a voucher which they eventually went back on too. We still needed to get to our destination so we bought a flight with another airline since the ones from United would have gotten us there way too late (and the same price).

We are lost on what we should be doing. I've tried calling, I've tried contacting them through social media. I've seen a few people go down the small claims court but I want that to be the absolute last resort.

Side note: We have a voice recording of them telling us our fate at the airport but they told us for "some reason" they're missing our phone conversation with the original agent (who they also don't have the name for).
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,145
29,501
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I knew before I was halfway through what was going to happen here.

We have company contacts on top of our page. Go to the airline tab and get the contact info for United. Write to Customer Service and tell them what you want. Give them a week to reply. If they refuse, write to the first executive. Give him a week to reply, if the answer again is no, write to the next executive. Repeat weekly if needed until you get to the top executive. If you go all the way up and don't get satisfaction, come back and we'll let you know the next step.
 
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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
2,100
4,351
Adding to @Neil's advice, be brief and polite when writing your email. The extraneous details can be left out, just enough detail to convey your situation. If the letter is too long, it may never get read! If you are agreeable to receiving vouchers for a future flight, let them know as you will have better luck receiving those as opposed to any cash refund.
 
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Jun 12, 2017
11
8
36
I knew before I was halfway through what was going to happen here.

We have company contacts on top of our page. Go to the airline tab and get the contact info for United. Write to Customer Service and tell them what you want. Give them a week to reply. If they refuse, write to the first executive. Give him a week to reply, if the answer again is no, write to the next executive. Repeat weekly if needed until you get to the top executive. If you go all the way up and don't get satisfaction, come back and we'll let you know the next step.
This is perfect thank you.
 
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Jun 12, 2017
11
8
36
Adding to @Neil's advice, be brief and polite when writing your email. The extraneous details can be left out, just enough detail to convey your situation. If the letter is too long, it may never get read! If you are agreeable to receiving vouchers for a future flight, let them know as you will have better luck receiving those as opposed to any cash refund.
Fantastic! I will cut it down so they could read it quickly.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,073
6,564
the United States
Examining your post, the relevant facts appear to be::
  • On our way from AAA-BBB-CCC a death in the family diverted us to DDD (specify airports and provide confirmation number)
  • United reservations kindly assisted us with a one-way to DDD and changed our itinerary to DDD-CCC
  • The return flights remained unchanged, and a confirmation email was received (provide confirmation number)
  • We were told twice there was no fee for this change
  • At the DDD airport, we were charged $378 for the new itinerary
Your challenge may be that when they said "fees", they referred to the "change fee" and not a change in the actual fare for the new flight.

How to articulate your case
- Your chances for success will be greatly improved by sticking to the relevant facts
- Your odds quickly diminish with excessively long emails, arguing, insults, and/or threats
- Be polite and professional even if and especially when you feel you have been mistreated
- Always close by thanking them for their time and consideration
 
Last edited:
Jun 12, 2017
11
8
36
Examining your post, the relevant facts appear to be::
  • On our way from AAA-BBB-CCC a death in the family diverted us to DDD (specify airports and provide confirmation number)
  • United reservations kindly assisted us with a one-way to DDD and changed our itinerary to DDD-CCC
  • The return flights remained unchanged, and a confirmation email was received (provide confirmation number)
  • We were told twice there was no fee for this change
  • At the DDD airport, we were charged $378 for the new itinerary
Your challenge may be that when they said "fees", they referred to the "change fee" and not a change in the actual fare for the new flight.

How to articulate your case
- Your chances for success will be greatly improved by sticking to the relevant facts
- Your odds quickly diminish with excessively long emails, arguing, insults, and/or threats
- Be polite and professional even if and especially when you feel you have been mistreated
- Always close by thanking them for their time and consideration
This is amazing! Thanks. We also just realised that when they cancelled our full flight and gave it back they just made it a one way trip so when you type our confirmation number it just comes up as a trip from the wedding back to our home city... They kept the confirmation number the same since the beginning.
 
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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,073
6,564
the United States
This is amazing! Thanks. We also just realised that when they cancelled our full flight and gave it back they just made it a one way trip so when you type our confirmation number it just comes up as a trip from the wedding back to our home city... They kept the confirmation number the same since the beginning.
That actually makes sense since they had already eliminated your connection to the wedding. However, I would still press them about why ...
 
Jun 12, 2017
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That actually makes sense since they had already eliminated your connection to the wedding. However, I would still press them about why ...
The guy who was helping us didn't speak english very well and apologized a lot for cancelling it. He said we'd receive a voucher to make up for it and then said since the flight is now more expensive when we originally bought it we won't get a voucher to make up for the difference...
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,073
6,564
the United States
The guy who was helping us didn't speak english very well and apologized a lot for cancelling it. He said we'd receive a voucher to make up for it and then said since the flight is now more expensive when we originally bought it we won't get a voucher to make up for the difference...
Understood. But you still have the email confirmation showing the DDD-CCC connection (under the original confirmation number), correct?
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,073
6,564
the United States
Yeah, I think we'd be happy just to receive vouchers in the same amount because we usually only fly with them.
You could request and/or accept that, but be aware that they will expire one year from the original purchase date (of the tickets you bought before the first flight).
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
2,100
4,351
That may not be the case if they issue the vouchers now, they will expire one year from the issue date as opposed to the original purchase date.
 
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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,073
6,564
the United States
That may not be the case if they issue the vouchers now, they will expire one year from the issue date as opposed to the original purchase date.
So, what determines that? What has been posted here with regularity is "from the original purchase date". Is it because they already completed the itinerary?
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
2,100
4,351
When someone cancels their ticket they usually have one year from date of purchase to use the residual value. When the airline throws out funny money/vouchers, it is usually from the date the vouchers are issued which is present day. Confused yet?!? Yeah, that's probably how the airlines like it!
 
Jun 12, 2017
11
8
36
You could request and/or accept that, but be aware that they will expire one year from the original purchase date (of the tickets you bought before the first flight).
We fly more than 3 times a year so that won't be an issue haha we actually never had any problems with United up to this point.
 
Jun 12, 2017
11
8
36
When someone cancels their ticket they usually have one year from date of purchase to use the residual value. When the airline throws out funny money/vouchers, it is usually from the date the vouchers are issued which is present day. Confused yet?!? Yeah, that's probably how the airlines like it!
Haha, I feel like I should start my own airline that serves the people...
 
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