United Airlines' Phone System Is Just Being Nostalgic About Refunds

The honeymoon may be over for recently wed United and Continental, and the merged company’s phone system is already daydreaming about its days as a swinging single, when customers could just call it up and ask for a refund on 30,000 unused miles.

See, back in March Consumerist reader Katie had put herself on the wait list for an upgrade to business class for her flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. In order to secure a spot on the list, she needed to put down a deposit of $600 and 30,000 frequent flier miles.

Unfortunately, she didn’t get that upgrade and flew in coach with the rest of us bums. Even more unfortunate is the fact that Katie still hasn’t received a refund on either her miles or the $600 she charged to her credit card.

We’ll just let her tell the story from here:

I’ve already filed a chargeback on the $600 with my credit card company. But I can’t get United to refund the miles.

I started out sending email customer support to both the Mileage Plus and “reservations” contact systems — 6 weeks have gone by, no response from any of them.

I then sat on hold for 45 minutes to talk to Mileage Plus, who told me they couldn’t help me, I needed to talk to reservations. I waited on hold 30 minutes to talk to reservations, then got disconnected.

I called back the next day, and reservations said I needed to talk to the refunds department. I called back and hit the options for “refunds”, and the guy there told me that they couldn’t handle refund requests over the phone and that the option for the refunds department in the phone system was a legacy thing from before the United/Continental merger.

He directed me to a web form to fill out to request the refund, and assured me the refunds department would process my request promptly.

It’s now been over 2 weeks since I sent in the refund request, and haven’t gotten any sort of response (and the miles are still missing from my account). I don’t even know what to do anymore, I just want my 30,000 miles back!

We’re reaching out to United to see if anything can be done to get Katie’s miles — and maybe even her money — back, but we don’t doubt she’s alone in feeling the pain of having to deal with a merged United/Continental where it’s nearly impossible to reach anyone who can speak directly to customers.