I received an e-mail this evening from a client whom I had assisted with an award reservation to South Africa on Swiss (San Francisco- Zurich-Johannesburg) using United miles. Tickets had been issued last October and were in economy class.
Hope you’ve been well.
We logged into our United account online and saw that the OUTBOUND is now missing the first segment — the SWISS 39, from SFO to Zurich is no longer showing up! The 2nd segment, from Zurich to Johannesburg is still there.
Please check that everything is OK!
Thankfully, this rarely happens but when it does, restoring lost segments can be a really challenge, especially on partner airlines.
I called United and thankfully reached a gem of an agent in Chicago. She was very confused why the segment dropped and put me on hold to investigate. She came back a few minutes later, deeply apologetic, telling me that the segment had dropped on 03 March.
Hmm. What else happened on 03 March? She blamed the new system and promised she would get Swiss on the phone to try to restore the reservation.
I did not expect Swiss to be helpful (they play like Lufthansa when it comes to make any sort of exceptions), and indeed Swiss flatly refused to restore the lost SFO-ZRH segments. It was United’s fault after all.
Meanwhile, I was looking at different routing and communicating with the client simultaneously. I had an idea with a mutually advantageous outcome.
I asked the agent if she could open up space on the United flight to Frankfurt, then put the clients on a South African flight to JNB, which did have award space. That shortened the original layover time for the clients. I also set one other condition–an upgrade to Economy Plus for no charge because of the hassle.
The agent agreed and placed me on hold to run everything by her supervisor. Soon enough, she came back and said she would accept my bargain and placed me on hold again to update the reservation and reissue the ticket. That took some time, but when she finally came back, the tickets had already been reissued and prime Economy Plus seat assigned.
The clients were very happy with the outcome, thankfully, and United saved some money that would have gone to Swiss.
But I suspect the ending was not so happy for many people who lost segments on their award reservations. I asked the agent how often this has happened since the SHARES transition and she said, “Oh, we get quite bit of these unfortunately.”
So now, if you have not done so already, check your United award reservations. Hopefully all the segments will be there…