United Forgets That You Had Reserved Seats, Shrugs

Silly Mike. He thought that by booking seats in the bulkhead row next to each other on well ahead of time for his flights to and from Tokyo on United later this week, he would actually get to sit in those seats. Instead, he writes, United’s customer service changed the plane type for their flight long after he reserved his tickets. Yet the airline somehow managed to not re-book seats for Mike and his wife at all. When he called to straighten things out, the airline put them on a different flight not sitting together and took away their precious bulkhead seats. United’s representatives don’t see why Mike has a problem with any of this.

Since we no longer have the personal cell phone number of Graham Atkinson, United’s executive vice president, Mike settled for sending him an e-mail, which he copied to Consumerist.

I booked two tickets to Tokyo on United, paid the extra upgrades of $400 for economy plus because I could buy bulkhead seats for me and my wife, received confirmation, seat assignments, everything. I leave on Friday.

Today, two days before I leave, I check again and see I have *NO* seat assignments, not even in economy plus. She said that the computer automatically does this and reassigns people because of an equipment change, but when I asked her why were were not reassigned, she had no answer. I am also a star alliance preferred flyer.

I called and talk to a confrontational yet dispassionate CSR manager in Chicago who says she will put me on a later flight out of Tokyo on the way home, but my wife and I will

1. Not have bulkhead on any flights as we had confirmed.
2. Not sit together
3. Be sitting in the middle seats apart from each other
4. Arrive back home later than previously booked.

She actually said, “either you accept this or you can show up at the airport in Tokyo with no seat assignments.”

I feel like a fool and am not sure what to do. I thought the point of paying *EXTRA* for those seats was to get them and to be able to know that I would sit next to my wife on this long flight and have more room for my long legs.

I could have (and should have) booked a cheaper flight with [All Nippon Airways] I guess.

I was totally floored how I was treated by United. I was treated with complete indifference with no remorse, as if I was truly their prisoner and would take what was given me. I asked if they would compensate me with an upgrade or something and was told they do not do that and wouldn’t even give me access to the Red Carpet club as a way of compensation.

I feel pushed to the edge here as I embark on this flight. Could United make this trip and my experience any more stressful? I paid almost 40% more for these tickets that are now completely devalued in my eyes and United couldn’t care less about the situation.

Curiously, Mr. Atkinson’s old title was Chief Customer Officer, but United doesn’t have anyone in that position anymore. Draw whatever conclusions you like from that.

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