Overcharged for flight change after itinerary change did not suit.

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Apr 3, 2017
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#1
We were originally booked on a flight leaving Orlando at 12:05 pm, which was changed to leaving at 11:46 am. This time change was not communicated to us, and I only found out about it because I checked the website while making plans for a return shuttle to the airport from our cruise. We are returning from a cruise in Port Canaveral that morning and were told by the cruise company that we cannot be at the airport 20-30 minutes earlier than originally planned due to different processes the cruise has to go through to be cleared for admittance at the pier. Because this change does not work for us, we had to change our return flight to one leaving Orlando at 2:18 pm. Since the itinerary change was "less than a 30 minute" difference, we were made to not only pay the change fee, which I was told upfront would be $20 for each passenger (which I am fine with), but were also made to pay for a seat upgrade since the fare category (basic United economy) we originally booked on the 12:05 pm flight was supposedly not available on the 2:18 pm (according to the agent I spoke with in customer service). I was then told that we would be charged an additional $200 per passenger because of this upgrade (that I was forced to accept because "my fare category was not available").

I don't mind having to pay the change fee, a total of $40 for the two of us, but it absolutely ridiculous that I was made to pay an additional $400 because the fare category I was originally booked in was supposedly not available. After a further search on the United website, that I did myself, not only was the basic United economy available on the second flight, but the total difference in price was less than $100 total over my original flight.

It is unacceptable that A) I was lied to about the fare category selection, and made to upgrade, and B) was made to pay for an upgrade I did not want because the airline changed my flight. The change in departure time is the fault of the airline, and I should not have been made to pay to compensate for their mistake. I am looking to be refunded that extra $400 that I would not have spent had the flight time not been changed, and I had not been given false information by the customer service agent.


I have already filed a refund claim with the airline and was denied with the following reason:

"The fare which you purchased allows a passenger to transfer the value of the original ticket to a new ticket for the applicable service fee. The service fee is charged for each ticket changed. A customer may have many reasons for needing to change their ticket: a new travel date, a different flight, a new destination, or a lower fare category on his or her ticketed flight. The service fee is charged whenever a customer exercises their privilege to make any change. Since a change did occur, we are unable to process a refund."

This answer, however, does not address the additional $400 that I was charged beyond the $20 change fee per passenger.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#2
We cruise often, and our major rule is to never fly the same day as the cruise departs/arrives. Airlines constantly adjusting their flight schedules for operational reasons. This is why they do not guarantee the departure/arrival times. In cases of a major schedule change, they will move you to another flight time or offer a refund. Unfortunately, 30 minutes normally wouldn't be considered major.

When you purchase a non-refundable airline ticket, you agree that to the fare rules, which normally allow for changes if you pay a reissue fee, plus any applicable fare difference. Unless they moved you from Economy to Business or First, you didn't pay for an upgrade, but the fare difference.

Fares are tiered and usually have specific purchase requirements. An advance purchase fare is cheaper than one with no advance purchase. Also lower fares normally sale out (only a specific number of seats are sold at each fare) first. If you are making a change on the date of flight, you no longer have the advance purchase qualification and there is normally few or no lower fare seats available, so you will need to pay the fare difference for the new flight.

You can write the airline a polite request for consideration, but normally the most you can expect to receive is a small voucher or some miles as a goodwill gesture for the inconvenience.

Depending on the specific policy your travel insurance policy may provide some relief.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#3
I've cruised a lot and many cruise lines are offering 'fast tracking' departure on the ships. You basically let them know ahead of time that you need to get off the ship first/early for an early flight/train/bus/whatever and they let you off the ship by 8:30 or so. It's not a guarantee that you will get off early, but I have never had a problem.
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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St Louis
#4
I think what @Catie Keating has done is book the ship's transfer. That usually has limits on what time you can book your flights and is generally not before noon. Although she could do that, do self embarkation and then take a shuttle to the airport. @Catie Keating if you check out Cruise Critic, there is a ton of information about departure ports and hotels, shuttles, etc. from the airport to the port and etc.

The other problem about leaving Port Canaveral and getting to Orlando is that if there's a problem on the road, you're stuck. People tell stories all the time of making it to the airport at 8:30 from Port Canaveral but then there's the case where there's a problem with customs when arriving, maybe weather, then getting off the ship is a nightmare, and then throw in a wreck on the roads and you're at the airport at 2:30 or so.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,721
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San Francisco
#5
I'm sorry you weren't able to make your scheduled flight, Catie. $200 is the usual change fee for an airline tix. From the airline's view, a 20 minute change should not have impacted you at all, since you're asked to arrive at the airport much earlier than that ... and this kind of thing is why. Travellers today just can't count on things working exactly according to the schedule they want to maintain. There are too many opportunities for monkey-wrenches in the works, especially getting from the port halfway across Florida to Orlando. We have read stories of people paying hundreds of dollars to get home after a snafu like this. You just paid the normal $200 change fee per tix. I'm so sorry and wish I could help you.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#6
Apr 3, 2017
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#8
Thank you for all of the replies. I know some of you mentioned that the change fee for the flight is the $200, which may be the case, but that was not what I was told by the customer service representative that I spoke with.

She very clearly stated that the change fee would simply be $20 per passenger, and then I was put on hold so that she could speak with her supervisor about the fact that my fare category was not available on this particular flight and would need to see if the change could be accommodated.

When I spoke to her next, she still stated that it would be $20 per passenger to change the flight, which I confirmed would be fine, and she proceeded to book us on the second flight. Had the $200 been mentioned at any point in the first conversation, I would not have necessarily had an issue. I was not made aware of the $200 until after the representative had confirmed the original $20 charge, and made the flight change. When I questioned the additional $200 per passenger, the only answer I was given was that I could go to the refund page and request a refund. Again, at no point did she state that the change fee was the $200.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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the United States
#9
Here is the link to United's flight change policy:

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/help/schedule-change.aspx

In it you will find the reference to the 30 minute rule. Because they only changed the flight by 19 minutes, the $200 change fee applies. However, your cruise complications provide a strong mitigating factor, one that is best posed to United customer service using the email shown in our Contacts database (see top of this page). I would give them 2 weeks to respond.

We have had success recently with UA Customer Service via email. Be sure to politely state your case with your main point being cruise itinerary restrictions that are beyond your control. Tell them you are aware your are asking for an exception and express your thanks for their consideration.

Going forward, it's good practice to schedule flights with a lot of lead and trailing time as multiple factors can delay your schedule and disrupt travel. And travel insurance, especially when cruising, is highly advised.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#10
When I spoke to her next, she still stated that it would be $20 per passenger to change the flight, which I confirmed would be fine, and she proceeded to book us on the second flight. Had the $200 been mentioned at any point in the first conversation, I would not have necessarily had an issue. I was not made aware of the $200 until after the representative had confirmed the original $20 charge, and made the flight change. When I questioned the additional $200 per passenger, the only answer I was given was that I could go to the refund page and request a refund. Again, at no point did she state that the change fee was the $200.
Catie,

Companies rarely go by what their employees tell you verbally, but what you agreed to at the time you booked the tickets. Now if she made the changes and did not give you the correct total amount being charged, then you may have a case, though it will be difficult to prove.

Based on your statement above, she did inform you of the total cost and you agreed to it. As suggested you can write the airline for consideration, just don't be surprised if their response is substantially less than you want.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,721
9,069
113
San Francisco
#11
Thank you for all of the replies. I know some of you mentioned that the change fee for the flight is the $200, which may be the case, but that was not what I was told by the customer service representative that I spoke with.

She very clearly stated that the change fee would simply be $20 per passenger, and then I was put on hold so that she could speak with her supervisor about the fact that my fare category was not available on this particular flight and would need to see if the change could be accommodated.

When I spoke to her next, she still stated that it would be $20 per passenger to change the flight, which I confirmed would be fine, and she proceeded to book us on the second flight. Had the $200 been mentioned at any point in the first conversation, I would not have necessarily had an issue. I was not made aware of the $200 until after the representative had confirmed the original $20 charge, and made the flight change. When I questioned the additional $200 per passenger, the only answer I was given was that I could go to the refund page and request a refund. Again, at no point did she state that the change fee was the $200.
If I'm understanding you, Catie, you bought the lowest-price tix which are usually completely useless if you're not on the scheduled flight. So I think United did you a very big favor here. Under the rules for this new basic fare, you'd have to purchase a new tix to get home. You can certainly use our Company Contacts to request a refund.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
20,130
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#12
Did you book this directly through the airline or through a third party?

As the other said if you really booked basic economy I shocked you were allowed to change at all. There are no changes or refunds permitted at all- they are basically junk tickets if you have to change them- it can't be fine you have the buy new tickets. Read the link CC posted.

You could try writing up the executive chain telling them that had the agent told you about the fees you would have left the ticket as it was.
 
Likes: jsn55
Apr 3, 2017
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#13
Did you book this directly through the airline or through a third party?

As the other said if you really booked basic economy I shocked you were allowed to change at all. There are no changes or refunds permitted at all- they are basically junk tickets if you have to change them- it can't be fine you have the buy new tickets. Read the link CC posted.

You could try writing up the executive chain telling them that had the agent told you about the fees you would have left the ticket as it was.

The tickets were purchased directly through United.

I guess my biggest issue is that had the change been communicated, which their website states will be done, I may have been able to change the flight or cancel that particular flight under the "24-hour refund rule."

I also have issue with the way the change was handled by the customer service agent. Although all of you state that the typical change of flight charge is $200, this is not what was communicated to me at the time of the change, and when I questioned the charge I was simply told to submit a refund request. I realize this is difficult to prove, as it happened over a phone call.

Had any of these things been handled differently, this entire situation could have been avoided. I just feel as though United dropped the ball on this and I'm being taken advantage of.



Thank you all for your thoughts and help. I will probably try to contact customer service, again, and see if I can get a better explanation than, "submit a refund request."
 
Jan 6, 2015
3,296
3,680
113
the United States
#14
The tickets were purchased directly through United.

I guess my biggest issue is that had the change been communicated, which their website states will be done, I may have been able to change the flight or cancel that particular flight under the "24-hour refund rule."

I also have issue with the way the change was handled by the customer service agent. Although all of you state that the typical change of flight charge is $200, this is not what was communicated to me at the time of the change, and when I questioned the charge I was simply told to submit a refund request. I realize this is difficult to prove, as it happened over a phone call.

Had any of these things been handled differently, this entire situation could have been avoided. I just feel as though United dropped the ball on this and I'm being taken advantage of.



Thank you all for your thoughts and help. I will probably try to contact customer service, again, and see if I can get a better explanation than, "submit a refund request."
I would not ask for an explanation, as that will just prolong a resolution. Ask them for an exception to the rules (i.e., request a refund for the change fees).
 
Likes: jsn55

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,130
19,012
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
The tickets were purchased directly through United.

I guess my biggest issue is that had the change been communicated, which their website states will be done, I may have been able to change the flight or cancel that particular flight under the "24-hour refund rule."

I also have issue with the way the change was handled by the customer service agent. Although all of you state that the typical change of flight charge is $200, this is not what was communicated to me at the time of the change, and when I questioned the charge I was simply told to submit a refund request. I realize this is difficult to prove, as it happened over a phone call.

Had any of these things been handled differently, this entire situation could have been avoided. I just feel as though United dropped the ball on this and I'm being taken advantage of.



Thank you all for your thoughts and help. I will probably try to contact customer service, again, and see if I can get a better explanation than, "submit a refund request."
Write to the first executive we have listed. Start there and state they did not tell you about the cancellation fee and ask if they can listen to any recording they have of the call.

You have nothing to lose by going one by one up the executive ladder, you might find one who agrees and helps you.