Ticketing Scam in Shanghai

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Mar 9, 2019
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#1
I purchased a one way ticket from Seoul Korea to Baltimore in November. I arrived from Seoul on time at 5:30PM March 1st. After being required to wait almost two hours in an immigration line I arrived at the United ticket counter at 7:35PM to get my boarding pass for my 8:25PM flight but was told that I could not board my flight#199 because "The gate for this flight closes one hour before flight time". They forced me to buy another flight telling me that it would cost $879.00. Several other passengers had the same experience. The bill arrived on my credit card for "Yaun Lu Businiess 9200043 Shanghai" for $1009.27. This clearly is a blatant scam! United has refused to honor my refund request because "We are unable to honor your request and would like to explain why. Our records show the ticket was used; therefore, no refund is due." I was FORCED to buy this ticket. And when I flew on the rebooked flight about 2 hours later people were boarding the plane right up until about 15 minutes before take off time - again pointing to the fact that I was scammed because they lied that my original flight was closed a full hour before flight time. I am working on a charge back with my bank but not sure they will honor it. I definitely will NEVER pay this bill but don't want to ruin my credit or reputation with my bank. I would love some advice!
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
What you experienced involved two different things: closing the manifest as Carrie stated, and boarding. For both in-country and international flights there is a sequence of events that occur: check-in, security, gate arrival, and boarding. It is the passenger's responsibility to be on time for each.
Roughly speaking:
  • 4 hours before scheduled departure to be at the airport
  • 2 hours at security
  • 1 hour at the gate
  • 30 minutes for boarding
  • 15 minutes to be seated
Many have not been allowed to board because they showed up late at the gate. Sometimes they see a delay on the board and adjust their gate arrival accordingly. Then the airline moves up the departure time (actual) and they miss their connection.

Better to arrived early than chance missing a flight . . .
 
Mar 9, 2019
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#4
I have flown through at least 100 airports around the world and always been able to board flights within less than a half hour before take off. In Shanghai they forced everyone to wait over 2 hours in an immigration line even to transfer flights. I had a three hour layover which should be plenty of time. And when they rebooked the second flight people were still boarding up to 15 minutes before take off so why an hour for the first flight? None of this was my fault so I am NEVER paying for this second flight and have filed for a charge back with my bank. I never heard of anyone arriving 4 hours before a flight. I always allow 2 hours and have never had a problem in many years of flying around the world.
 
Likes: agnostic

Neil Maley

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#5
You will most likely lose the credit card dispute. Just because you file one doesn’t mean you will win. If you flew on the flight, it’s doubtful the credit card company is going to side will the you/ you received the service you were charged for.

What time did your boarding pass printed as the boarding time? Were you at the gate by the time printed on your boarding pass?
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#6
Respectfully, statistics have caught up with you. Airline sites advise 4 hours for international flights. We see it here all the time. And now you have experienced it firsthand. A long line at the check-in counter or security can make you late for your flight. That is fact.

And the 1 hour close of the manifest is standard across all airlines. Boarding time is at the airline's discretion, but again most publish 30 minutes online. We have seen a number of cases here where flyers are refused boarding when they arrive at the gate with less than 30 minutes before scheduled departure.

What I said above is often recommended in order to avoid what you experienced. Otherwise the risk is yours I'm afraid . . .
 
Mar 9, 2019
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#7
The original flight I paid for departed at 8:25PM. I arrived at the ticket counter at 7:35PM and was told the gate was closed an hour ahead but when they rebooked me on the next flight (This should have been free since the 2 hour required immigration line forced me to be late which I have no control over) people were still boarding right down to 15 minutes before take off so why the hour requirement for the first flight? As for the second flight which I flew on the boarding pass says "Boarding time begins: 11:25PM, Boarding Ends: 12:00AM, Flight departs: 12:15AM" So I ask why they closed the original flight I paid for an hour before when this one says boarding down to 15 minutes before?
 
Likes: agnostic

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#8
The original flight I paid for departed at 8:25PM. I arrived at the ticket counter at 7:35PM and was told the gate was closed an hour ahead but when they rebooked me on the next flight (This should have been free since the 2 hour required immigration line forced me to be late which I have no control over) people were still boarding right down to 15 minutes before take off so why the hour requirement for the first flight? As for the second flight which I flew on the boarding pass says "Boarding time begins: 11:25PM, Boarding Ends: 12:00AM, Flight departs: 12:15AM" So I ask why they closed the original flight I paid for an hour before when this one says boarding down to 15 minutes before?
Boarding and checking in are two different things. As Carrie said, United closes its manifest one hour before the flight leaves. Did you have a boarding pass when you arrived at the gate? You needed to be checked in.

Here is what United says about the boarding time:

Arriving at the gate
You'll want to allow enough time to make your way to the gate, and your boarding pass will tell you when to expect boarding to start and end. For most flights, you can opt in to receive a United app push notification that lets you know when boarding has started. That way, you can relax or enjoy the airport’s amenities until you need to be at your gate. To receive the notification, make sure you’ve enabled app notifications and have your mobile boarding pass added to the app’s wallet. Learn more about the United app and mobile boarding passes.

If you had a boarding pass and were at the gate at the time printed on the boarding pass, we can help you. If you didn’t have boarding pass United locks down the computers and the agents cannot override the computers to print a boarding pass .
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#9
And here is the link for United's time recommendations/requirements. The specify 3 hours for airport arrival (international flights), but I add an hour as it makes the timing easier to remmember (i.e., divide by half for each "check point") . . .
 
Mar 9, 2019
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#10
I came to the ticket counter to check in and get my boarding pass after wasting two hours in a foolish immigration line. Well Carrie must be wrong because my pass I have right in my hand here now says boarding down to 15 minutes before take off. As for loosing the battle with my bank, in a worst cases scenario I will happily ruin my credit, close my account with this balance though of course I am trying not to do this. Obviously I will never pay for this second ticket on principle. And why was I quoted $879 and billed for $1009 from some company other than United?
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#12
I am still not clear- so you did not have a boarding pass when you arrived at the gate- you hadn’t checked in. That is very different than boarding time.

It doesn’t matter what the reason for the delay was in getting to the counter. If you arrived at 7:35 for an 8:30 flight it was too late to check in. The computers lock down and they cannot check you in and give you a boarding pass.

If you had done online check in the night before, you would have been allowed on the flight because you would have been checked in already.

What you should do is use our company contacts and explain this to them. You arrived three hours before the flight as tecommendef but due to a snafu at immigration that took more than two hours to get through you didn’t get to the check in desk until the computers had locked down and nicely ask them to make an exception and reimburse you for the tickets.

You need to be polite because you are asking them did an exception. United doesn’t run the immigration lines but you should impress on them that you did everything right by arriving early.

Here is the process on how to write and go up the executive chain :

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/


United didn’t rip you off, they can’t override the computer lock down, your anger should be directed at airport operations.
 
Mar 9, 2019
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#13
Thanks for that link. I fill follow up with it. I never will pay for something I am forced into by circumstances completely 100% beyond my control. Yes the I ridiculous immigration line (China requires this even for transfers) had one officer on duty processing over 700 customers which took about 2 hours forcing me to be late in checking in and getting boarding pass. Yes I had a full three hours but the immigration line was the complete cause of this problem. There is no way I am paying for two flights to the same place due issues out of my control!
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#14
James, it sounds like you were not checked in with more than one hour before departure. I think you are confusing things....checking in and boarding. Yes, you can board with less than an hour before departure as long as you are already checked in. In addition, many flights don't start to board passengers until 30-45 minutes before departure. But you cannot check in with less than an hour before departure. The computers lock out the agents.

Your best bet is to ask politely for a refund (highly unlikely) or a voucher for a future flight. While the length you spent in the immigration line was not your fault, it wasn't United's either. Part of travel is anticipating longer than expected lines, road closures, etc. and allowing yourself enough time if the unexpected happens.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#15
@James Steamer when you arrive at the airport is entirely within your control. No difference between this and someone that doesn’t allow enough time to get through the TSA checkpoint.
You miss your flight and you have to buy a new ticket.

Good luck is you writing campaign
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#16
How did you book this ticket? Did you use a TA? OTA?
Based on your description, it does not sound like the tickets were interlined (you had to clear customs and recheck at Shanghai) versus check in at Seoul for both flights.

Since these were separate tickets, you simply didn't have enough time built into the layover.
Your anger is misdirected at United. This is NOT United's fault. You will lose a CC chargeback and even if you win, United can take you to collections.

Your anger should be directed at 1) whoever booked your ticket, and 2) airport operations.
 
Mar 9, 2019
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#17
This is total nonsense John Baker. "when you arrive at the airport is entirely within your control. " Do I as a passenger have control over when a flight lands? Obviously not! I am not the pilot. I guess I could have butted in line at immigration? All of this circumstance was completely, 100% not in my control. And in China they require one to have a Chinese phone number so WiFi does not work there to check in online. I will not be buying two tickets to the same place and nobody is answering why I was told a price of $879 yet billed for $1009.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
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#18
James,

It sounds like you had two separate tickets, rather than a connection on one ticket. When you do this, if you are delayed for any reason on checking in or boarding the second flight there is no protection. We have written several articles warning consumers, including this one:

https://www.elliott.org/case-dismissed-2/booking-connections-separate-itineraries/

Unfortunately, if this is what happened, the airline is very unlikely to provide a refund. Your best bet is to use our contacts to write a polite and concise email to the company explaining what happen and ask for a credit of the ticket you could not use as a goodwill gesture. The following post will explain how to best do this.

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/
 
Mar 9, 2019
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#20
Thank you. I am exhausted now from writing to several sites at United, filing for charge back with my bank. One thing is certain - I am not paying for two tickets to the same place no matter. Gotta stay grounded in principles. Yes I was booked to BWI through San Francisco and Chicago for a total of three flights. Originally I was booked to LAX to BWI, the second leg on Alaska Airlines. I filed with Alaska but we will see. Cheap o Air will not refund the original flight.
 
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