Last year the first bookable route for the United 787 Dreamliner was Denver to Narita (Tokyo) on March 31, 2013. Many folks, myself included, immediately booked that flight when it went on sale. We all knew the Dreamliner was at least going to fly domestically first, but it was cool to be on the inaugural flight for that route, and it would be in the much anticipated United Dreamliner. I would say at least 20 – 30 people I am personally aware of from all over the country booked that flight because it was the inaugural. It was pretty exciting! I also really wanted to go to Japan for the first time, and the fare was very good, so it was a no-brainer.
Given all those factors, I pulled the trigger and booked the round trip from Denver to Narita on the 787 and have been looking forward to the trip on a great plane with great friends for months. However, since the Dreamliners around the world are grounded, the inaugural flight from Denver to Narita is also put on hold. They have tentatively moved it to mid-May, but it is reported to be a soft date pending the Dreamliner situation. Even still, mid-May doesn’t work for me to go to Japan.
Over the weekend my reservation on United.com changed to show that I needed to call in about my reservation. I still want to go to Japan, but obviously now need a new flight. Here comes the piece of advice if you ever do something like this yourself….. When I booked my tickets on this flight, I originally just booked the flights via Denver. I figured I could just add on my “positioning” flight from Houston later on. I had since booked those flights, also on United, and all was fine until the 787 flight got canned. United was very willing to work with me to find a different flight to Japan without changing the fare or anything, but since I had booked via Denver, I had to still go from Denver. A non-stop from Denver no longer exists for my dates, so now I will have to fly from Houston to Denver and then take a flight from Denver to another city in the US (such as LA, Houston, Seattle, etc.) to get to Japan, and then do the reverse on the return. I know some folks like to add in as many connections as possible, but I am not one of those folks.
I am betting that I had I booked my flight from Houston to Denver to Narita and back on the same ticket in the first place that they would have now re-accommodated me on the nonstop flight from Houston to Narita instead of hopping around the country before crossing the Pacific. I hold no ill will at all toward United for this – they are still getting me to and from my originally booked origin and destination on that ticket….I just probably should have been smarter about how I booked the ticket in the first place. That is a risk you take when you have different pieces of a trip booked on different tickets, even with the same carrier, but I should included in my own risk calculation that this was a new route and a new aircraft.
Lesson learned for me, and hopefully you can avoid a similar situation if you book a flight like this in the future. I’m still super excited to visit Japan for the first time though!