Nathaniel is a Milage Plus member with United who has been saving his miles in the hopes of cashing them in for two tickets to Ireland for his honeymoon. When he finally got enough miles, he called United to book his reward seats and got a nice “talking to” by their customer service rep for not booking far enough in advance.
For those of you who don’t often book reward travel, it’s not easy. There are a limited number of seats made available for those booking free economy tickets with frequent flier miles. You’re much more likely to get a seat if you use your miles for an upgrade…. but that’s another topic. This post is about Nathaniel. Read his email inside.
You guys just saved my honeymoon!
I’m getting married in July, and shortly after, my fianc
e and I have been planning on spending a week in Ireland for our honeymoon.
I fly to Shanghai for my work fairly frequently, so I’ve been signed up for United’s Mileage Plus plan. My work pays for the tickets, but I get the miles, so it works out pretty nicely. I figured out that by the time of my honeymoon, I would have enough miles to get each of us a free (economy) ticket to ireland. I also got a united visa card, to rack up even more points.
I spent a lot of time looking over the cryptic Mileage Plus website, reading all the rules and restrictions. They said that you could order tickets up to 300-something days in advance, and no closer than 24 hours before the flight. So I kept checking flight availability while I saved up miles, assuming that if I could still see seats for the flight available, I’d be able to get those seats with my miles.
I finally saved up the 100,000 miles I needed for two seats, and called up United to book the flight.
I was surprised to hear that all flights were booked for july, august, and September. I asked to speak to a supervisor, and she (very rudely) told me that I should have booked 9-10 months before. (Even after I told her that I had JUST gotten the 100,000 miles, she interrupted me and said “Well, how long have you known about this trip. Maybe you should have thought about this sooner?” in a very condescending tone.)
I said some choice words to her at this point (Which I know I shouldn’t have done, and I know I should have gotten her name) and hung up.
After I calmed down, I called customer service back, and got a much nicer agent who once again explained that there wasn’t anything I could do.
I understand that these agents didn’t have the power to change anything, though the first one could have been nicer about talking to me, especially since this was my honeymoon trip!
So, no where else to turn, I went to consumerist, and typed in United in the search box. And, amazingly, you guys posted the email for United’s VP of customer service, Graham Atkinson!
I sent Mr. Atkinson a very nice email, and explained my situation. The next day, I got a call from Robert Yomoda, a very nice agent in Chicago, who told me that he was forwarded my email, and wanted to see how he could help out.
I explained my situation, and told him when we were hoping to fly, and how flexible we were with dates and locations. He told me that he would start searching for flights, and would call me the next day.
Sure enough, he called me on saturday, and told me that he found us a flight! It was complicated, but it works. The flight out goes from SFO to Frankfurt to Dublin. That’s not so bad. The return flight goes from Dublin to London to Ottowa, overnight stay in Ottawa, to Toronto, to SFO.
So, I told him that we like adventures, and that we’d go for it.
Long story short, I used your executive contact information, and got the flight I needed!
Thank you, Consumerist, for saving my honeymoon!
Yay! Constant readers will remember Mr. Atkinson. We accidentally posted his cell phone number. (We didn’t know it was his cell phone number! We swear! We’re not that mean!) Anyway, he seems like the guy to email if something goes awry with United. Have fun in Ireland!—MEGHANN MARCO