EVA/United Blocked Star Alliance Connection

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Sep 2, 2019
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#1
Flown Cathay RT Hong Kong to ORD many times, connecting to American for a short domestic leg to OMA after 7 day Chicago stopover. All four legs one itinerary booked through Cathay, so Cathay's trans-Pac 2 free checked bags allowance applies throughout. I'm now in Taipei, for the first time flying EVA direct to Chicago 9/11. Despite EVA's Star Alliance partnership with UA, EVA's booking page, set to multi-destination, would not connect to any US flights beyond ORD. Went to EVA's main Taipei office, but they suggested UA was blocking further US connections. I thus had to book EVA and UA legs as separate RT tickets, though in fact all one itinerary with coinciding dates. I promptly emailed UA Cust. Care exec. level (per your good list). Respondent polite and articulate, but first said stopover voided MSC baggage allowance. Plainly incorrect as all my HKG-ORD-OMA flights, including ORD stopover, enjoyed 2 bag allowance, and DOT Most Significant Carrier bag rules are explicitly not voided by stopovers. I wrote her back, very politely saying so, but attaching DOT Section 399.87, with its notice of $10K USD fine per incident for airline failure to honor MSC bag regulations. (This includes foreign airlines operating in US under US tariffs .) I'm aware my upcoming itinerary can be considered two since booked "separately", but this spliting was created by the airlines' own booking issues. The UA CC woman claimed no responsibility for failure to link EVA/UA itinerary, saying I'd need to pay bag fees for both UA legs. Hence each carrier seems to be blaming the other, while I'm stuck with a $140 UA bag fee for two bags round trip ORD-OMA-ORD, despite the entire journey clearly being one itinerary. Not sure who's at fault here--incompetent IT at EVA, or UA stealthily blocking EVA connections in the US in order to assess improper bag fees. Before filing a formal DOT Air Travel Complaint, I beg the opinions of more knowledgeable travelers on this site. If EVA's fault, I may simply have to find another airline that will fly this route as one itinerary.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
This appears to be an EVA software design "feature". I can book through to OMA from Taipei on EVA if I choose the Round-Trip option, but cannot by using multi-city.

Perhaps EVA intended to prohibit the stopover using multi-city, but either way I suggest you call EVA and explain the above. Hopefully, they will book it for you at no charge because you cannot do so online.

As an FYI, I confirmed the star alliance with UA, and also was able to use multi-city on UA to book your itinerary . . .
 
Sep 2, 2019
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#4
Thanks to you both. Round trip was not an option since I'm stopping over a week in Chicago, as mentioned in my initial post. Hence multi-city would be the only way to do this. Because it's generally impossible to reach anyone at EVA by phone in Taipei, a well-known problem, particularly after the weeks long strike, with hundreds of flight cancellations, I went directly to the main EVA Taipei office. They were at a loss to explain the difficulty. The agent helping me phoned someone in authority, passing on the suggestion that UA was blocking the connection. I noted all this in my first post. Certainly one can book UA TPE-ORD-OMA round trip, but that would be considerably more expensive, and, as I understand, allow only a single free checked bag the entire itinerary. Regarding Weihlac's post, I've had a Chase UA Mileage Plus card since 1997. It used to afford some advantages, but UA steadily whittled those away. The real issue remains: why one can't book EVA multi-city with a US Star Alliance partner.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
If there are two separate tickets the MSC does not apply.

It is not one itinerary if there are two separate tickets and PNRs. Arguing and sending the DOT rules will get you nowhere.

I am not sure if this is an UA problem. It may be EVA. I tried to do a multicity just to Europe and it did not work — ie to FRA.
 
Sep 2, 2019
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#6
As noted earlier, Christina, your second sentence is precisely the point: I was prevented from booking as a single itinerary on EVA's site, despite the journey's actually being so. Perhaps the fault is EVA's, but this remains uncertain, and what I'm trying to discover. Though it seems unlikely EVA or UA is scheming to bypass regulations, which might indeed interest DOT, I don't believe Star Alliance was intended to frustrate connections this way between member airlines.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
As noted earlier, Christina, your second sentence is precisely the point: I was prevented from booking as a single itinerary on EVA's site, despite the journey's actually being so. Perhaps the fault is EVA's, but this remains uncertain, and what I'm trying to discover. Though it seems unlikely EVA or UA is scheming to bypass regulations, which might indeed interest DOT, I don't believe Star Alliance was intended to frustrate connections this way between member airlines.
Blinker I am going to have to lean to EVA for this. This could be technical— ie web site not able to price.

It could be legal agreement — EVA does not have a legal agreement to sell the ORD to Omaha as a separate non connecting ticket. This is the stopover problem.

It could be incompatible fares that someone may have to manually do.

There could be a political element to getting a legal agreement — with other airlines — I do not know. Taiwan is ahem politically a delicate subject.

Have you talked to an actual travel agent who may be aware of the legal problems on what EVA can and cannot sell?

Bottom line is that if there is no legal agreement for EVA to sell such a ticket they cannot. Alliances have all sorts of complicated rules on what can and cannot be sold by partners.

Your choice if EVA is not allowed to sell a multistop is to take what they can sell or use another airline.

But waiving DOT rules does not help as your current tickets do not qualify for the rules. The DOT will not care. There is no law that says alliances have to offer all conceivable possibilities.

If there is no agreement to sell multiple stops you were not prevented from buying it as it does not exist.
 
Sep 2, 2019
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#8
Thanks for your post Christina. I agree the fault seems EVA's. I did actually stop at a Taipei travel agency after visiting EVA's main office, but neither of the agents I spoke with had any insight into this. Perhaps another, larger travel agency might know more. Regarding current political developments in this part of the world, Taiwan is not Hong Kong, where I lived 8 years, after 7 in mainland China. TW's an open and democratic country, ever more closely allied with the US, and utterly different politically from China. In this case the partner airlines in question are TW's EVA and UA, neither Chinese or HK. Hence mainland or HK politics shouldn't be a factor.

Yes, I'd love to see the terms of the particular alliance between EVA and UA, which may be where some answer lies. How to access that information I'm unsure. Star Alliance web pages reveal no specific inter-partner agreement terms, nor even a contact/query address. I certainly see the logic of your last sentence, but still wonder what if any US partner connections might be possible with EVA. If none, that would seem to defeat the purpose of the Alliance, at least for US EVA customers. At any rate, I appreciate your thoughtful response.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
Blinker I was not thinking of HK but ahem other pressure .... will just leave it at that,but similar to what was in this article:

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/dip...i-may-hit-back-airlines-complied-taiwan-china

I do not think you will have any luck getting a copy of the agreement -- that is usually kept confidential because of business reasons -- ie competition. And it gets more complicated with airlines having 'joint-venture' agreements.

One of my friends took EVA to get to the Philippines and had a stopover in Taiwan precisely for the reasons you mentioned. But she was on an all EVA itinerary.

Flying by EVA makes sense as

One thing I noticed when trying to book certain tickets -- there are restrictions -- ie UA cannot sell an intereuropean discount economy fare -- I have to buy that from LH directly -- UA can only sell me the unrestricted economy fare -- which is of course a very high fare.
It may be the case that to do a multicity like this would be such a high fare that it would be better to pay for the baggage.

Just for interest, I tried to book a multicity on China Air, the other airline based in Taiwan and part of a different alliance -- Skyteam. It is very restrictive on the multicity -- some itineraries just refused such as Taipei to Atlanta, stop for 3 days, Atlanta to New York stay 3 days and then New York to Taipei -- would not work. And the Skyteam partner has its base in Atlanta. Then I tried a multicity with New York for a few days, JFK to LAX and stay for a few days, and LAX to Taipei -- let me select flights and then it got an error message

I agree it is very frustrating.
 
Likes: VoR61
Sep 2, 2019
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#10
Your SCMP reference may well be related, even if such a move by EVA seems a little extreme. I followed the country-naming tussle in this and other contexts, but hadn't seen that particular article. Confess I stopped reading SCMP several years ago--its dominant biases insupportable, its ownership plainly aligned. Hong Kong Free Press, hongkongfp.com, is a far straighter source, esp. throughout the current crisis. One insider site, aviation oriented and largely from pilots'/aircrew POV, is pprune.org, subsection "Fragrant Harbour", the Eng. translation of "Hong Kong".

Your booking experiments (thanks!) further demonstrate TW airlines' broad disconnect with US domestic flights. Too pervasive to simply be EVA IT ineptitude. Perhaps naive to imagine US regulators could or would supervene in Am. public interest. (Restraint of trade?) You're correct about calculating the lower EVA fare with the paid UA baggage component--I was mindful of this, but dd not think to investigate whether a higher class EVA ticket might permit a UA stateside connection. A fine question.

As I may have mentioned, having flown Cathay for years, I even considered a complete itinerary with them, naturally at higher cost. But there's no direct CX-ORD from TW, only TPE-HK-ORD, then on to OMA via partner AA. Problematic for several reasons, but maybe doable with a return-leg overnight in HK, bunking with former neighbors on Lamma Island, hopping the 5:30A ferry back to Central, then the bus or Airport Express to the airfield in time for the 10Aish CX to TPE, the last permitted on such a through booking. Could work if no interruptions or delays--these days totally ill-advised. Moot anyway, since CX has fallen into other hands, which I prefer to avoid. Again my thanks for your experience, wisdom, and patience!
 
Sep 19, 2015
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Blinker I suspect there may be a lot of ahem mainland issues to contend with and this just further complicates the issue. Yes, there is a disconnect because a business traveler from Taiwan would want to do multistops, as would tourists on a long trip. Thank you for the advice to look at HK Free Press, it is got to have other sources. I am not a frequent traveler to Asia so my experience is limited.

I do use Star Alliance flights so I was interested in your problem, and found it more and more frustrating in trying to figure out why this was happening; then I tried the Skyteam partners and began to see this as a bigger problem.

You may still want to write to the UA executives and politely ask why this ticket is not possible. They may not give a definitive answer because of the ahem delicate situation.

Right now the CX itinerary certainly does not sound like a good idea, and even in the best of times it does add one more stop on an already long itinerary.

My friend enjoyed her EVA flight and visit to Taiwan -- I would certainly try EVA, including a Hello Kitty flight!

When you depart, are you stopping in Chicago? If you have a long layover but not an overnight, consider asking UA to through check the luggage. They will do that for Star Alliance partners. It may not save the fee but would save a hassle.

The only other thing I would think of is if buying ticket far in advance and need to do a separate domestic US flight, look at the difference between economy and first -- for some random dates in October, the difference was $155 -- so only slightly more than paying for the economy and two pieces of luggage each way ($140) and a larger seat.
 
Sep 2, 2019
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#12
Excellent advice about going first class on the ORD-OMA legs! Makes perfect sense. Since I've booked the ORD-OMA legs on award miles, I wonder if it might still be possible to upgrade the 9/18 and 10/15 flights to First with either cash or more miles.

My return is OMA-ORD-TPE, with a 2.5 hr. layover at ORD, the TPE flight departing 12:05A. The CC woman at UA wrote I could indeed check both bags at OMA through to TPE, so that's a relief. Though reasonably fit, and used to camelling on these journeys, and the ORD rail shuttle's down till Jan. Hence I'd otherwise have to schlep two 50 lb. bags farther, then onto and off a shuttle bus. Plus soft duffel carryon with laptop in backpack, plus briefcase. Tougher in the hot subtropics!

Though I was quite fond of Cathay, and evolved a good seat system, things have changed for that airline, perhaps irrevocably, perhaps fatally. We'll see how it goes with suffering HK. Citizens are fighting hard for whatever freedom they can keep. Though one side has the guns and clubs, teargas and watercannons, the other has perhaps even more powerful weapons. The forces in conflict are titanic, the outcome important to us all.

Regarding the larger domestic connectability problem, it may be time for someone in US authority to address this. Call me an idealist, but if foreign airlines wish to compete in US airspace for US customers, their systems should be more transparent, predictable, and equitable.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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Blinker one thing that does concern me is the 2.5 hours layover in Chicago -- if you are going to try to upgrade is there anyway to take a slightly earlier flight -- if one exists? Or is it the earliest flight of the day. Is it a regional carrier and jet? The good thing about taking an early flight is that the plane is already there -- no waiting for incoming aircraft.

I have never made the transit from terminal 1 to 5 where I think EVA is -- but I have had my fair share of delays at Chicago -- random snow in April, the usual.....

At least Star Alliance allows the check through on separate tickets -- I do not think OneWorld does. I never took Cathay, I had heard good things years ago but now not as much. But not carrying the luggage should make it faster. Does EVA allow online check in so you can take care of that the night before?

There is definitely a power imbalance with HK -- and I fear that Taiwanese airlines may be at a disadvantage when competing against the might of the ahem nearby airlines and the powers of alliances. Alas unless the Taiwanese are investing heavily in US real estate I suspect that they will not be given the same attention as others.

Someday I would like to visit Taiwan, would like to see the museums.
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#14
My understanding is that Star Alliance doesn't offer flight protection on separately ticketed flights. If I'm correct, if your flight from OMA-ORD is delayed and you miss your ORD-TPE flight, you will be considered a no-show and may need to buy a new ticket.
 
Sep 2, 2019
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#15
Thanks Christina. The 2.5 hour layover is only after arriving ORD on my return leg to TPE. The OMA-ORD flight arrives 9:30P and the EVA ORD-TPE leaves around midnight. EVA allows two 50 lb. checked bags, so no problem there. My issue is rather with the 2 UA flights ORD-OMA and OMA-ORD, where I'll get whacked $70 each way for the two bags since a separate itinerary. I may simply mail a box from Chicago to Omaha on the outgoing leg, reducing the load to 1 checked bag. But on the way back to TW, I'm invariably heavy with books, supplies, etc. Impossibly pricey mailing US to TW.

This morning I checked the prospect of upgrading my Mileage Plus award flights on UA, either with cash as you suggested, or miles. However, since UA some years ago summarily downgraded vintage Mileage Plus Chase credit cards, mine plummeted from its previous Premier status (since '97) to "General". Thus impossible to upgrade by any means more than one tier: Economy to Economy Plus, which allows only 1 free bag. Cheaper to just pay the $30. When stateside 7 days before the first UA leg, I'll call CS to see if anything might be done about upgrading to First, but doubtful. I've thought about changing the old Mileage Plus card for one of the newer models, but seem to recall the old one has a grandfathered 1 to 1 dollar to mile return rate for most purchases, considerably higher than the later cards, despite nearly all of its former perks having been stripped. In my case, that may be advantageous, regardless of the bag charges. Anyway, I'm normally stateside only twice a year, so I've time to dope out a better arrangement before the next trip.

In polite correspondence with UA Cust. Care, I'd mentioned that I'd flown UA trans-Pac many many times since '03, and been a steady customer since infancy. Under the murky circumstances with EVA, and the obvious proximity of all 4 flights, I suppose she could have waived UA's bag fees, but she didn't. Nonetheless, she advised I could check bags through all the way from OMA-ORD-TPE on the return, as I wrote you earlier. That helps, esp. with the present ORD construction forcing pax from rail to bus shuttle. No idea how far that work extends the schlep from T1 to intl. T5 or wherever.

About TW's position with US airlines, I believe things will improve, particularly with more western pax, not all of those flying on US military transports as those numbers are building. Dramatically fewer tourists head to Ch. these days, even fewer to HK during this crisis. Folks looking for an authentic but more civilized Chinese cultural experience are coming here. Having visited many museums across the mainland, and in HK, Taiwan's Natl. Palace Museum is arguably the best, holding huge troves of art and artifacts sent out of Ch. after the CCP takeover in '49.

As so often, the mainland's once again tipped its heavy hand, this time in HK, encouraging more of the free world to line up against it. Its spurious claims in the S. Ch. Sea are another demonstration. The Philippines' poor Duterte cockily imagined he could manipulate the emperor, but now his own thin guile washes back on him, as the Ch. wrest more island territory from his grasp. Though the west's economic disentanglement from Ch. will prove challenging, many-featured, and slow, TW's now in a unique and evolving position to benefit, as long as it strengthens alliances and keeps building sound defense. Some businesses that decamped from TW to Ch. during better days are steadily returning, while others leave Ch. to chase cheaper SE Asia labor. At present, any Ch. invasion attempt, even in the highly unlikely case TW had to fight alone, would exact a very high price from the aggressor, predictably leading to stalemate. Such a rash move could also bring real harm to the Ch. throne, both internationally and domestically. Hence it seems unlikely, despite the noisy threats, which only drive ever more undecided voters toward the liberal DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) of TW Pres. Tsai Ying-wen, who's taken a firm stance against Ch. Odds are she'll probably be reelected in Jan., esp. as Ch. keeps bludgeoning HK.

About snow at ORD & JFK, I've "slept" in both overnight. ORD slightly more humane than JFK. Learned to fly with baseball cap (overhead lights), loaded toothbrush, inflatable neck pillow, and space blanket in carryon. Too old for such hijinks now. Stuck with teenage son in Denver on the real 9/11, enroute to Portland OR. Fortunately found a scarce motel room where we stayed nearly a week before snatching seats on a train packed with other refugees heading E, some in the aisles, squalling babies. Straight out of a 1940's movie--escape from a war zone. Memorable.
 
Sep 2, 2019
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Thanks SMD for the heads up. Since there's a 2.5 hr. delay between UA arrival at ORD and the EVA departure, I think all will be well. However, since that's the last UA out of OMA that evening, your caution's something to consider. Both UA flights are award bookings, so I'm uncertain the second leg can be changed to an earlier without penalty.
 
Sep 2, 2019
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#17
My mistake in the last post to Christina. I'm actually booked on UA 2296 leaving OMA 6:27P, arriving ORD 8:06P, not 9:30P. Thus 4 hour ORD layover. There's also a later UA OMA-ORD flight, leaving 7:52P, arriving 9:33, with 2.5 hr. layover before EVA takes off. So I should be OK, but I suppose weather could supervene and ground all OMA takeoffs, however unlikely mid-Oct. Poster SMD's caveat remains--maybe no flight protection if separate itineraries.

That evening, there's an 8:50P AA, arriving ORD 10:28P. No idea how UA might handle this if both UAs were cancelled, or the first UA was and the second full. Years ago, such a "distressed passenger" might get put on a competing carrier's next available flight. Nowadays, who knows.

This actually happened to me once SYR-ORD, through no fault of my own, while flying with a caged 45# Vizsla female. UA booked us on the next flight to Chicago, a very early AA, 1st class no less. After the UA counter agent handed me various chits, the dog and I were cabbed to a contracting motel, which required guests with pets sleep in a smoking room. (Reeked!) At the contracting restaurant a short walk away, I showed the meal chit, ordering two dinners from the server, explaining I needed one to go for my four-legged pal back at the motel. She told the chef, who assembled a tub of decent leftovers, more than enough. I left a fat tip. Back at the motel, when I lay the tub before her, the dog looked at me twice before chowing down, unsure such bounty was truly hers. Good people everywhere, sometimes when one least expects it.
 
Apr 12, 2019
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#19
While it is unfortunate you were not able to book under one PNR, as others have said MCS does not apply since the ORD-OMA is considered a separate trip. One thing you may try at the airport when checking in would be to see if EVA can check the bag through to your final destination of OMA by showing agent both tickets. That may avoid fees. In OMA I would also ask about checking bags through to final destination to avoid rechecking bag. I might also inquire about waving of fees based on significant carrier rules, but I wouldn't expect it. However, it never hurts to ask nicely.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#20
This all is way above my pay grade, Blinker, but one thing I do know. All the code-share, alliance, partnership stuff is baloney. It may do some good for the airlines themselves (I'm sure their bookings have increased because pax think there's some added value). Your story is the epitome of my assertion ... what you want won't work, nobody knows why, nobody can fix it, and there's little you can do about it. Too frustrating. However, your attitude is wonderful and you sound like a fascinating human being, if you ever come through San Francisco, let me know and we'll take you to dinner!