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Important thing’s first. Happy Memorial Day, and thank you so much to all who have served our country. I may or may not always agree with why we are at war with various countries, but I will forever be enormously grateful for those who are willing to serve. I am sad that I missed the Memorial Day celebration in DC by two days. Instead, I celebrated the three day weekend at home with my family – which in reality is much better anyway. We dressed in red, white, and blue, put out American flags down our sidewalk, went to a neighbor’s pool party, ate burgers, and drank whiskey. Oh, and I also wasted 100 minutes on the phone with United. That was not a part of the initial holiday weekend plan.
About three weeks ago I purchased a very simple ticket from Houston to San Antonio and back. My daughter and I are flying there to meet up with my husband who will already be there for work purposes. Normally I would have driven that route, but this time it makes more sense to fly. Anyway, I bought the ticket and received the initial automatic email back from United that showed the dates, the price, the confirmation number, etc. Normally I would receive the email that the reservation had actually ticketed a few minutes later. However, that email never came, the reservation never appeared in my MileagePlus account, and the confirmation number would never pull up an actual reservation.
I kept hoping against hope it would fix itself, but that never happened. So while my child was napping today I bit the bullet and called United. I knew it would not be a quick call, but was hoping to keep the call at about 30-40 minutes as that was how long I likely had until nap time was over. Yes, all things revolve around nap time – the only productive 90 minutes of the day. I’ll start with a positive fact, the phone was answered almost immediately, no hold time. The call was answered in India by a woman who was trying to be helpful, but rather quickly I was asking for a supervisor as it was clear that she was not going to be able to find the reservation, and I needed to talk to someone else. Since she was nice and kept asking for a few more minutes to “try to find it another way”, I agreed. Eventually she did let me send in the initial email I received from United. I had asked for this from the beginning, but 30 minutes in she agreed it was a good idea. She explained they do not have work email addresses, so they normally cannot accept emails, but I was able to send it to her supervisor.
About another 30 minutes go by after I send it while we wait for the supervisor to get done with another call and review the email. She does offer to call me back, but I just don’t trust that I will hear from anyone again, and I really don’t want to start over. At roughly the one hour mark my child has been awake for about 15 minutes and both she and my husband are getting a bit annoyed. I want to hang up, but keep hoping a resolution is just around the corner. Around this same time it is confirmed that the supervisor has received the email and the problem is that the reservation never ticketed and thus was canceled. Um, yes, I know that is the problem. I want to know what caused it never to ticket, and what are we going to do to fix the problem.
The agent I have been on with the whole time takes all my flight information again and says she will book it for me again and (generously?) waive the phone booking fee. Amazingly the flight is still pricing the same as it was a few weeks ago, so that part is pretty simple. I wanted it booked again on the spot first to avoid possibly repeating the same problem, and secondly to make sure that the gift certificate that was applied to part of the first ticket wasn’t going to show as already used. After the agent takes all our info, she transfers me to someone else to finish the booking. This starts the entire process all over again. We have to explain what the problem was, what had been done thus far, and then start over again with the booking process. Normally, this would not be a big deal but I had now been on the phone for about 85 minutes and had a cranky toddler and husband on my hands. Going backwards for no apparent reason was not making me happy.
After she gets all the information again, I get put on hold. Again. At exactly 100 minutes into the call, I call it quits. While the call hopefully would have ended at any moment anyway, I had already been thinking that for about 40 minutes and couldn’t waste any more time hoping we were almost done on a day that was meant to be about the three of us enjoying time together. It was way past swim time at that point!
Miraculously, about an hour later I receive an automated email from United with the ticketed reservation. Hallelujah! I had already planned in my head to write a polite, but unhappy letter to United about this experience, however the email confirmation made me think twice. The price on the email confirmation is less than what I was quoted today by both agents. The price was about 35% off and it booked into a different booking class than what I saw available today. Perhaps that was a lucky mistake, or perhaps it was intentional as a sort of apology. Either way, it certainly wasn’t mentioned to me today during my 100 minutes chatting with United. It was, however, a nice surprise.
To pass the time today, I was tweeting some of my displeasure with the process. As a result, some helpful readers sent me some “special” United numbers to call for better assistance. I very much appreciate that assistance, but it seems crazy to me that anyone would have to call a special number. I’m not “special”, I didn’t have a “special” request, and I don’t need “special” help. Well, maybe I do, but that is a story for another day…… 😉 I just need basic help when an airline doesn’t ticket a reservation. I should not have to spend 100 minutes on the phone and then just give-up as I have no idea when the problem will be resolved. This is kind of crazy. What makes it worse is that I have another reservation that seems to have the exact same problem, only this one was just purchased yesterday, so I am still hoping that it will ticket on its own. I actually brought it up today on the call at the beginning, but we never got around to actually addressing that issue. For that one, the price I paid is way long gone, so I can only imagine what the process will be like to get it fixed. I very much do not want to spend another 100 minutes on the phone.
However, despite how this likely sounds, this post really isn’t about me. If I was the only one on earth this ever happened to, then it would just be bad luck. However, based on the Twitter responses I got today, there are others that are having this same problem and they are having similar difficulties when they try to get it resolved. Have I just been lucky for 31 years to never have this issue, or is this something that is happening more frequently right now? Who really has that long to be on the phone to resolve a problem that they didn’t cause in the first place? Who really has time to repeat the whole process again on a different ticket? In case anyone is counting, I do realize I could have gotten half way to San Antonio by the time today’s phone call was finished. United, I really want to love you. I do. But, you are making it quite difficult.
If anyone has a similar story, or a recommendation to get my next ticket fixed short of wasting another hour and forty minutes of my life, I’m all ears! Sounds like many of us could benefit from some help with this apparently semi-common issue. We all need less time on the phone with airlines and more time swimming in the pool!