I type this as I wait on hold, now entering the second hour of Rhapsody in Blue, as United tries to ticket a reservation that should have been issued weeks ago.
Some background: when you take a domestic bump on United, you receive a booklet of four paper $100 travel certificates that can be used for travel on any United flight. Mike was bumped off a flight a few weeks ago and offered to give me his vouchers, knowing that I have a trip to Tokyo coming up. Vouchers are fully transferable as long as they are not bartered or sold. I accepted his offer and placed the itinerary on hold.
United allows paper travel certs to be redeemed either by mail through their Detroit ticketing office or at an airport ticket counter. For logistical reasons, it seemed more convenient at the time for Mike to mail in the vouchers. That was a huge mistake.
When you ticket a reservation by mail, UA essentially places it in a deep hold, locking in the fare and confirming the reservation, but not ticketing until the vouchers are received. It has now literally been nearly four weeks since Mike sent the vouchers in and I am still waiting on the ticket.
But I have been in contact with UA! A couple weeks ago, I noticed on my itineraries page that some of the segments had dropped off the reservation. A call to UA revealed no answers, but the missing segments were restored. Same thing happened last week and again the missing flights were restored. It probably had something to do with the one Continental flight on the reservation–I wasn’t sure whether a CO-operated, UA codeshare flight could be added to the itinerary, but the agent I spoke with on the phone said it would not be a problem and even noted on the reservation that a VDB (Type B) travel cert would be sent in.
Turns out, that agent was wrong (though I have never had any trouble ticketing a codeshare flight using these type of travel credits at airport ticket counters) and CO flights–and all codeshares–are excluded. But because of the notation already on my reservation, UA agreed to honor the vouchers.
Then I received a call from United stating that because the vouchers were not in my name, I needed to fax in copies of ID for both Mike and me. Done. Another call from UA a couple days later. The fax wasn’t clear. Ok, faxes resent.
Still no ticketing, though. This morning, I called UA reservations and happened to catch a reservations agent in Michigan right down the hall from the office that was going to ticket my reservation. She put me on hold and came back ten minutes later saying everyone was in a meeting, but not to worry: the reservation would be issued in an hour.
But it wasn’t. I called back this evening and got a rather gruff agent in Chicago. She did identify herself by first and last name, which is usually a good sign, so I talked to her. She placed me on hold for about 30 minutes (after taking eight minutes to read all the comments in my reservation!), then came back and quoted me a fare nearly three times higher than what I had reserved.
I balked. After providing her my original fare and then providing the fare basis, she put me on my hold. 25 more minutes and counting…I’m still on hold.
She’s back. Nope–they can’t "find" the fare and "fares aren’t guaranteed" anyways. Best they can do is about 40% more than my original fare. I’ve just asked to speak with a supervisor and am on hold again.
Success! They found the original fare buried deep in my record and have stated they will honor it. The ticket is being sent over for processing and should be issued by the end of the day. But I am not celebrating until I have a ticket number.
Another two hours of my life I will never get back. Next time you get a voucher, be sure to redeem it at the airport. And to make your life easier, stick to all UA metal.