Is this enough compensation? They downgraded me — but where’s my refund?

Donald Buisman splurged on his flight from Kansas City to St. John in the US Virgin Islands by booking two first class seats on United Airlines.

After all, it was his fifth wedding anniversary, and he could pay with a combination of miles and money: 45,841 points and $1,747.

But he didn’t go first class all the way.

“The outbound flight and our stay in St. John was great but we encountered a problem on our return flight,” he says.

When Buisman and his wife arrived at the airport, they discovered their return flight was delayed.

We were then involuntarily bumped to another flight that did not have first class seating available. The flight was operated by US Airways.

We had to get home so I did not make much of a fuss especially since the counter agent said as soon as I landed I could apply for a refund for the difference between the first class service I paid for and the economy service we actually received.

But how do you calculate that difference? As always, there’s math — and there’s airline math.

After many rounds of e-mailing back and forth between US Airways and United, United finally agreed to issue a refund to us. However, the amount they were willing to refund was only $65.22 per person for a total of $130.44.

I did not price economy class tickets for our trip but I am sure the difference was more than $65.22 per ticket each way.

I e-mailed them back asking for the actual fare difference for the return flight charges but I never heard back from them.

Instead of answering his question, he received the following terse notice from United recently:

We have received your refund request. A refund in the amount of $65.22 per person has been issued to the Master Card account. It takes approximately 7 business days for the amount to be credited back to the account.

We appreciate you choosing United Airlines and hope that we can welcome you onboard again soon.

Buisman is unhappy with that response. That seems a little low to me, too.

We’ve had this discussion before, and it all comes down to this: When an airline sells you a first class ticket, it charges you a lot. When it has to refund the fare difference, it offers little.

How convenient.

Buisman tried to appeal the decision, but United won’t respond.

I have not heard anything back from them since July 11 and I can’t talk to anyone at United because they say all refunds can only be done by e-mail or regular mail, not through the telephone. I don’t know how much I should be owed but I don’t think $130.44 is even in the ballpark.

If that was the real fare difference between first class and economy tickets I would fly first class all the time.

I could ask United about this case, but I’m sure it would tell me that once you run the numbers and adjust for the actual value of Buisman’s miles, you do indeed come up with $65.22.

But is that enough? And whatever happend to the Transportation Department’s rules for compensating customers for being denied boarding? Seems United didn’t offer anything for bumping the Buismans.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Carver

      File a small claims lawsuit.

  • $16635417

    45,841 miles? Why such an odd number? The routing was not mentioned, but that could be key in how the fare was calulated, especially if carriers were now mixed.

    Was the reason for the delay mentioned? It sound like they were reaccommodated on another airline but also state they were involuntary bumped. Bumping implies overbooking, was the original flight overbooked? Why did they not stick with the original delayed flight?

    The airline calculates the difference in what was paid, vs. a full fare coach ticket. Not cool. They should calculate the difference in what was paid vs. the lowest available coach fare available for the city pair on the actual day of purchase. They DO have the ability to do this…but don’t.

    I think they are owed more than what they received for the fare difference, but I do not see the case for denied boarding compensation without more details about what happened, the reason behind the delays, comparisons of scheduled itinerary vs. actual & where the overbooking happened.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Once again, United has horrid customer service. I’m not shocked at all and I’m afraid of Continental picking up their bad habits.

    This guy deserves more because airline math is not reality math.

  • Fred I

    3 things stand out for me here:

    OP wasn’t technically forced to downgrade – United would have accommodated him on their next flight with first class, although they might have had to wait a day or two. Not necessarily a great option, but it’s there if first class is that important.

    This is not a bump (it would be if the flight were oversold) – this is a cancellation due to a mechanical problem. The airline pays for accommodations and does accommodate you on another airline. If airlines had to give out money for mechanical cancellations, there would be a lot more unsafe planes flying anyways.

    OP never gave ANY idea of what compensation he wanted. By the airline’s calculations, he got the fare difference. He is complaining that it isn’t enough. But what would be enough for him? He makes no attempt to calculate anything himself, and he would also need to have some real numbers to base his calculation off of, which he would need to find.

  • Tom

    I don’t think “involuntarily bumped” is the right terminology. That would imply the flight went ahead without them, but instead they were put on the next flight out. Also, I don’t think United flies to St. John’s, so there’s something left out of this story.

  • emanon256

    This story has far too many holes for me to believe.  First of all, United published rate for miles from US to the Caribbean for First Class is 30,000 miles if saver seats are available, otherwise its 60,000.  The Miles & Money published rate is 35,000 miles + a percentage of the lowest available fare.  So the 45,841 miles does not make any sense.
    The only Star Alliance carriers flying into St. John are Continental and US Airways, Not United. Currently United does not offer Miles & Money awards on US Airways flights nor on Continental yet, despite the merger.  So I am curious how he flew on United when United’s route map says that the destination is only available via code-share or Continental.
    Also, if a flight is delayed, they would not involuntarily bump someone. If they were boarding and it was oversold they would ask for volunteers, and if they could not find enough, they would start bumping.  However, they offer substantial compensation to the volunteers, and they bump based on status, then fare class, then check in time.  An award ticket on United, even a saver award, is considered Full Fare for boarding order, so Mr. Buisman could not have been involuntarily bumped.
    What likely happened is that Mr. Busiman complained about the delay, and was offered to be re-routed on US Air in economy and accepted.  Unfortunately, this type of action will result in a refund between full fare economy and full fare first class, which is only a few dollars.  If Mr. Busiman were actually bumped, he would have received at least a $400 flight voucher per person, if it was involuntary, he would have received a cash refund of at least that amount per the law.
    I think Mr. Busiman made a poor chose in asking to be routed, and now regrets his decision and wants to make some money off of it.

  • John Baker

    There are too many holes in the story for me to vote either way. It states he paid a combination of points and dollars. Does he mean miles or did he purchase the ticket through a third party (like a credit card company reward plan)? If he paid through a third party, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the price he paid the third party is the price of the ticket.  It is quite possible that he did get the correct refund based on the ticket the third party chose but we don’t know. He needs to go back to whomever he purchased the ticket from first to try and get the difference back from them.

  • emanon256

    I’ve experienced quite the opposite.  United used to have excellent customer service.  Continental did as well, but around 2009 or so Continentals service started to rapidly decline, United’s was still pretty good at this time.  Unfortunately, since the merger, I have now seen United service rapidly decline as well.

  • DavidS

    Bummer OP got downgraded. Too many facts lacking. Lots of unanswered questions. Terminology used that does not appear to apply in this case. Move along…nothing to see here. Chris, next case please?

  • dot

    usa airways  thinks that bumping one from international business to the back of the the day of departure is only worth a $100 vocher for future travel/a drink coupon and free headphones….daaaaaa  the flight cost $4,000… for r/t 4 months in advance 

  • The Condor

    First, the combination of points and dollars suggests that he used a “convert points to cash” to help pay for the ticket.  He didn’t buy coach and use points for an upgrade.  At least, that’s my guess.  (Although 45841 is a prime number, so I am curious as to the exchange rate.)

    The airline math is most likely assessing the cost of an immediate purchase one-way coach fare with no discounts.  They are often close to, or even more expensive, than an advance purchase business class fare.  Is that fair?  I think not — the appropriate coach fare to equate would be half the round-trip advanced purchase available when the original ticket was purchased.  

  • Ben

    Unrelated comment (sorry):  I see that airlines are now starting to install a “secondary” door to the cockpit which is essentially a security gate to ensure that no one can rush into the cockpit if the cockpit door opens for a minute, say when a pilot uses the restroom.  Seems that the best protection for all of us would be for each passenger to be locked into their seat using some sort of restraint.  Only the flight attendant would have a key.  This way only one passenger could stand at a time and only with direct supervision of the flight attendant.  In the event of an emergency a switch in the cockpit could release all passengers to evacuate.  This would make me all of us feel safer, so why isn’t something like this being considered?

  • Mark K

    The strange mileage amount makes me believe the trip was booked through the credit card using the any flight anytime with miles option offered and not directly with the airline (also I tried to price this routing and none of the airlines involved will show any flights to St John now).  So United is probably refunding the difference between the cost of coach round trip and what he actually paid.  The price he gave for the cash portion sounds about right for 2 coach tickets bought well in advance to the Virgin Islands. 

    I believe he should talk to his credit card company and ask that the appropriate number of miles (half the amount) be refunded since he didn’t get the service he paid for and he should take the cash refund and be happy with it.  Depending on how valuable a customer he is (i.e. how much he spends on the card) he should get something back.

    I had a similar experience with CO a few years ago.  I bought a full fare first class ticket and flew out without issue.  On the return, as a “favor” to me I was placed on an earlier flight due to approaching weather at my destination.  Unfortunately, the plane was smaller and I ended up in coach and due to how the ticket agent rebooked me, I lost my seat on the other flight and was not even placed on the upgrade list for the earlier flight.  The flight I was placed on had 2 open first class seats and since I had an actual first class ticket I thought I should be placed in one of them ahead of the upgrades, CO thought otherwise. CO refused to refund anything to me stating “what are you complaining about, we got you where you wanted to go” and that at the time of departure the fare for first class was more than I had originally paid so I no longer qualified.  Needless to say, this made me reluctant to fly CO for quite a while.  

  • Mark K

    I agree that the level of service has declined for both airlines in recent months.  However, I had the exact opposite experience you did over the years with United.  I have never been happy dealing with United customer service.  Maybe it has something to do with what level frequent flyer you are and which call center you get routed to.

  • Mark K

    His statement they they “had to get home” makes me think he asked to be put on the next available flight which the airline did.

    Also, sometimes first class tickets cost LESS than coach.  So the statement made by the OP that if 1st was only $60 more than coach he would fly 1st all the time just shows he doesn’t understand airline pricing.  On a flight I regularly take, you can almost always get a discount first class ticket last minute for less than the coach fare offered at the same time.  Last minute coach on my route used to be $1200 while the last minute 1st was around $900 (now that CO & UA merged, the difference is a lot less unfortunately).  Why? Because business travelers are not allowed to buy 1st class tickets if their company is paying for them so they buy the Y class coach seat (the airline prices these higher to make more money) which almost guarantees they get upgraded.  

  • Janice

    My first thought was, wow, that’s a LOT of points and money for two first class tickets.  When you buy a first class ticket, you should get a first class seat – I don’t care what you paid for your ticket. It costs a hell of a lot of money to “earn” those points.

  • Jenny

    I didn’t find the response about the credit “terse.” It looks like an automated email when a credit is issued. Be happy when you get a reminder to check your statement for the credit instead of trying to read malicious intent into every little thing the big, bad corporations do.

  • Brooklyn

    Bad idea – on long flights, it’s important to get up and walk around from time to time, especially for older people, in order to prevent blood clots and strokes. I lost a friend in just that way.

  • Bodega

    First off, United does not fly to ST. Thomas, so he flew into that airport on USAIR.  So what is missing is how this ticket was constructed.  He could have flown out of Kansas City on UA and then connected to USAIR.  We need to know how miles were used, for what segments and what segments money was used for and if this was USAIR all the way.  Now that UA charges a fee for use of miles for upgrading, there is just too much information not available to make any type of call on this. 

  • Michael K

    If UAL stands by this math, they should let their economy passengers upgrade on this itinerary for $65/person one way.

    Looking at current fares available  for future travel (MCI->STT) first class seems to be in the $2500-$4000 range round trip and economy is in the $500-$1100 range.

    If those numbers are representative, I can’t see how a refund of less than $700/person in value (($2500 – $1100)/2) would ever be appropriate.

    $65 is absurd, especially so if the OP didn’t get his miles back either.

  • bc

     Actually, if you haven’t booked a ticket on UAL in a while you may not know they offer several different pricing options:

    1. Pay Cash for a ticket
    2. Use miles (Standard award or Saver award options)
    3. Use miles & Cash – This options you pay fewer miles but also pony up some cash to pay for your tickets.

    If two first class tickets cost 60k miles each then it isn’t unreasonable to believe that two first class tickets could cost 46k miles plust $1700 and change.

  • Bodega

    You can also earn them with a credit card and by never flying.  We don’t know how the points and cash were divided, so a judgement can’t be made.

  • Charles

    As many have observed, United doesn’t fly to St. Thomas (you don’t fly to St. John, anyway according to But, Continental does and code shares, so it likely looks much like a United flight to some people. I assume they used a credit card and had that many miles that they used as cash, so they effectively paid $1102 per ticket (most cards give you a penny per mile). That’s a bargain on United, though I did find first class MCI to STT for $1250 on United and maybe they caught a good sale. It looks like $800 is pretty typical for a United coach ticket on that route, though I found them as low as $650, but only on select dates and well in advance. So, assume a ticket difference of $300 or so. You can’t fly this route direct, so figure at least 4 legs, one of which was downgraded, you come out to $75 per ticket, not far from what United came up with and they may base the coach fare on a last minute coach fare in their accounting. It seems to me that the question is less “why is the refund so low” and more “how did they get such a great deal on a first class ticket?”

  • Charles

    You base your math on a theoretical $2500 first class ticket. But, they only paid about $2200 including the miles for two tickets. Had they paid $2500 per ticket, I would cede the point. But, they didn’t.

  • Charles

    This was dirt cheap. Miles are worth about 1 cent each if used as cash on a ticket, so they paid about $1100 per ticket with the cash and miles. That’s a bargain for first class. BTW, a round trip first class ticket on United to the Caribbean is 160,000 miles.

  • Teresa Stewart

    Not sure how you define “all of us”, but if this became the norm I would never fly again.

  • Carrie Charney

    You mean Ben’s suggestion is for real and not sarcasm?

  • Christopher Elliott

    Wow, excellent comments. I should have sent this one back with a few questions before writing about it, in hindsight.

  • emanon256

    Yes, I have booked on UAL, and their mileage chart shows the rates in my post. No where does their mileage chart list 45,841.

  • emanon256

    160,000 is for non-saver first class in a 3-cabin aircraft.  They do not fly 3-cabin aircraft to the Caribbean, so the first class rate is actually 120,000 miles per person in a 2-cabin aircraft.  However that is full-price awards, saver awards are 60,000 for first class.

  • Michael K

    they only paid about $2200 including the miles for two tickets

    Where did you get that from?  On United, it costs $35 + 7.5% to buy $1,000 miles.

  • Sershev

    I had a situation with Delta. I booked Business class
    ticket from SJU to LAX connecting in ATL and SLC in February. I paid $454 for
    the ticket (one way). At the time of booking, the lowest economy class ticket
    was $213 (one way). When I was waiting for my connecting flight in ATL, gate
    agent called my name and asked if I wouldn’t mind to take nonstop flight to LAX
    due to SLC flight was oversold. He didn’t offer any details and I didn’t ask
    anything assuming it would be the next flight to LAX which was departing in the
    next 45 minutes. However, after the agent did his magic on the computer he gave
    me a boarding pass, which actually wasn’t a boarding pass but a seat request
    card and it also, was for the flight leaving hours later. I asked the agent
    what is the deal with a seat request card and why am I not on the next flight
    to LA and also what about compensation? His response was that the next flight
    to LA is overbooked and he confirmed me on the flight after that and for some
    reason he can’t assign seat, that it will be assigned at the departure gate.
    And as of compensation he said that I am going to go on non-stop flight it is
    better than connecting. I argued that I will arrive to LA 2 hours later then I
    was supposed to and it is the time I am loosing. The agent then printed $200
    travel voucher and $10 meal voucher, handed it to me and said it is all he can
    do. After I left the gate I went to customer service desk and asked why the
    seat cannot be assigned to me and I was told that it was because I was
    confirmed in economy class due to business class was sold out and they cannot
    overbook business class, but I am on standby list in business class. I asked
    what if there will not be a seat in the business class. They told me I will
    have to wait for the next flight with available business class seats (next day)
    or fly coach. I asked if I go coach will I get any refund for downgrading. The
    answer was, since I booked a discounted business class ticket it is treated as
    a coach class ticket and no refund is available. I asked two other agents and
    supervisors at ATL and a reservation agent on the phone the same question and
    was told the same answer. They told me I can call customer care after I get
    home and see if they can do anything about it but it won’t be a refund. When I
    called customer care next day and explained the situation and how I could be
    home hours earlier and fly in the class of service I paid for, they issued
    another $200 travel voucher. I wasn’t very happy with an outcome but it was all
    I could get for the inconvenience.

  • Michael K

    You can’t use “a penny per mile”.  With that logic, any North American first class ticket is never worth more than $400 (saver award) or $800 (standard award) each way.

    The “penny per mile” conversion is why the credit card issuer makes a profit.  No one should be profiting when a customer deserves a refund because they’ve been involuntarily denied the service they purchased.

  • Charles

    What they sell miles for and what they are worth are two completely different things. Yes, United charges $35 for 1000 miles, so for $875 you could buy the miles to purchase a saver fare in the US, which is worth a lot less. The miles for sale thing is a real profit center for the airlines (some would use the term “rip-off”). Nobody would consider airline miles to be worth $0.035 each. The best deal I’ve ever gotten worked out to be $0.022 per mile based on the regular ticket price.

    In general, you assume actual airline miles are worth about $0.02 each. But, the strange number they quoted of 45,841 miles on the ticket and their use of the word points indicates this was probably credit card miles such as Capital One or some other miles card. (Cash plus miles on United would be like 10,000 miles plus or some other nice round number.) If you buy a ticket on those programs you can apply your miles to the price at a value of $0.01 per mile. (Yes, these programs are not a good deal; you might as well get the cash back instead). There may be other sales as well; I don’t use those stupid cards. So, the total ticket cost was $1747 plus $458 in miles for two tickets or $2205. That’s $1102.50 each. That’s darned cheap!

  • Charles

    You are correct, except it appears to be 80,000 for first class to the Caribbean. But, try getting that seat, sometime. If you figure the normal estimate of $0.02 per mile, that’s a $1600 ticket, which sounds about right. But, that’s if you get a FF ticket from the airline. If you apply the miles like cash, they are only worth $0.01 each. United does have great Cash plus Miles bargains sometimes, BTW, which we have used before. but they are always cash plus 10,000, 15,000, etc. and I’ve never seen them to the Caribbean.

  • Michael K
  • Charles

    If you do “pay with miles” on Delta, where you pay part of the ticket in miles, you get $0.01 per mile. This also was clearly not airline miles; it was credit card miles, but they use the same deal. You look up the price on their web site. It says $1100 per ticket. If you have 20,000 miles, you can apply that to the price for $200. That’s why they advertise no blackout dates, etc. It’s just a discount on the ticket. You might as well take the 1% in cash. You always get a better deal if buying with all miles. Applying miles to the ticket is pretty much always at a penny per mile. If someone has a card that works different, let me know, but I’ve not seen one.

  • Michael K

    If this was a United Miles & Money deal, these were UAL miles, regardless of where they came from (actual miles flown, credit card, etc.).The airline already profited on the miles/money conversions at the time of purchase.  They should not profit AGAIN on the refund conversion for service denied involuntarily.If you disagree, why not do all the calculations in miles and give the OP his refund entirely in miles (what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right)? $1747 @ $.01/mile = 174,700 + 45,841 = 220,541 miles. Two one way economy tickets are at most 50,000 miles.220,541 – 50,000 = 170,541 miles to be refunded[PS- Not really relevant, but since you brought it up, I’ve booked award tickets several times with values in the $.03 to $.035 range (based on the best available fare at time of booking).]

  • Gordon

    Seriously wtf?

  • Tony A.

    Lots of the posts here are very confusing. Why not ask and answer  the basic questions first.

    (1) Does United *sell* a FIRST CLASS CABIN flight from Kansas City (MCI) to St. Thomas, VI (STT)?

    The answer is – most definitely YES!
    United *codeshares* a USAir flight from MCI-CLT-STT and vice versa.

    (2) Does United have a FIRST CLASS FARE from MCI to STT?

    The answer is – YES. But the required routing is:
    4FR2 MKCSTT-UA 20SEP11
        23 FROM-TO  MKC-CHI/EWR/HOU/WAS-BQN/SJU-STT*               
           FROM-TO  MKC-CHI/EWR/HOU/WAS-SJU-STT*        
    Therefore, the UA First Class fare from MCI to STT cannot be used for the United Codeshare flight MCI-CLT-STT.
    Also, if you route the pax via SJU, there is no first class cabin. In other words, if you want First Class all the way you must route MCI-CLT-STT and vice versa only. (Note there is a EWR-STT UA1479 flight which starts on 1OCT so that is too late to consider for this scenario.)

    (3) How do you construct a First Class UA Fare from MCI-CLT-STT?

    Answer – you need to combine the UA First Class Fare from MCI to CLT and the UA First Class Fare from CLT to STT. Here is what the FARE CONSTRUCTION would look like:

    ADT MKC UA CLT 1165.58UA STT Q41.50 1129.00UA CLT Q41.50
        1129.00UA MKC 1165.58USD4672.16END UA XT10.00AY13.50XF
    The total fare with tax is $4733.26 per passenger.

    (4) What does the UA FIRST CLASS ITINERARY look like?

     1*UA2629F  MCICLT     715A 1031A/O $ J01 E
     2*UA2628F  CLTSTT    1145A  333P/X $ J01 E
     3*UA2628F  STTCLT     255P  636P/O $ J03 E
     4*UA2352F  CLTMCI     749P  912P/X $ J03 E

    Note that all the flight segments are codeshare flights (denoted by the * before the flight number).
    Also note that MCI to STT uses married segment logic (so you cannot sell the flight segments individually).

    (5) What is the distance between MCI-CLT-STT?

    CTY   DC   TPM   CUM   MPM  
    MKC 1
    CLT 1 US   808   808
    STT 1 US  1523  2331   **MPM NOT AVAILABLE**

    It’s 2,331 miles in one direction.

    (6) Could Mr. Buisman have done any better?

    Answer – Sure.
    If he knew that United was simply codesharing USAir flights then he could have priced the flights from USAir instead.

    The lowest fare from USAir for the same itinerary is only $1412.10 all-in per passenger on (combining) First Class One-Way Excursion fares.
    Here is the fare construction –
    ADT MKC US X/CLT Q6.50US STT 679.00US X/CLT Q6.50US MKC 659.00
       USD1351.00END US XT10.00AY13.50XF MCI4.5CLT3STT3CLT3

    (7) What is the Morale of the story?

    Answer – Mr. Buisman should have consulted with a good travel agent first.
    He paid 45,841 points and $1,747 to United. Since buying the same tickets on USAir would cost only $2824 for 2 tickets, then one of tickets really cost him all his 45,841 points plus $335. What a waste of points and real money.

    Score one point for the Brick and Mortar crowd!

  • Tony A.
  • Tony A.

    Note: USAir awards to Caribbean on first class can be as low as 60,000 miles. If you partook of the Buy and Get Double Miles offer, then you will need to buy 30,000 miles at $825 plus 7.5% tax/fee. So the 60K miles would have cost about $887 each after tax. Even if USAir charges another $35 processing fee to the Caribbean, the total cost would have been only 922 each for a low season first class ticket. $1844 is almost the cash Mr Buisman paid UA before the mileage deduction.

  • $16635417

    Tony A> Can you go back and see when UA discontinued their IAD-STT service? Was it recently? I recall the return, STT-IAD, actually had to make a fuel stop in SJU as it could not take off from STT fully loaded with fuel to make it to IAD. It may be possible this was flying at the time the OP was…or I could be thinking years ago! I see they are going to be putting a CO 737-800 on the route, I recall it was formerly a UA Airbus.

  • emanon256

    If it’s a 2-cabin aircraft, first class is the business class rate and no one gets charged the first class rate.  I don’t think United even runs any 3-class aircraft to the Caribbean.  So it is 60,000 for first class.

    I just tried this AM and found miles+money for 35,000 + ~$700 for first class to the Caribbean using flexible dates.  However it was leaving on a Tuesday and returning the following Tuesday which is not possible to use in my opinion.

    I actually used to find saver first awards all the time, but its become much harder since the merger.

  • Sershev

    Discounted First class may be less than full fare economy or maybe $65 more. When United rebooked customer on US Air econmy they probably booked it in Y-class. All they refunded is a difference between full fare economy and First class fare paid, which was probably discounted. That is why the difference is so small. In this situation the best is contact customer relations and convince them that at the time of booking economy class tickets were also diply discounted. I don’t think they will offer credit card refund but they can probably offer a voucher and/or bonus miles.

  • Bodega

    The last time I checked, you can not use miles from your UA account and upgrade on USAIR on a paid ticket even though the flights show UA numbers when they are actually coshares on USAIR.  You have to use all miles to get a ticket in coach, biz or first but no split of money and cash, so he had to have paid for her USAIR portion.  So the miles used were for what part of his itinerary?  What part did he actually pay for?  Again, more information is needed.

  • Sadie Cee

    I don’t understand all of your response, but I love your closing sentence.

  • Sadie Cee

    Are you serious?  I hope not.

  • Tony A.

    I think UA999 stopped last 13AUG. Some of its schedules were either non-stop or via SJU on an A320
    It will be replaced by UA1605 effective 12NOV. Flies SAT only 73G non stop till 10DEC.
    On 15DEC till 2JAN, the new flight # is UA1445. 73G flies nonstop 5d/wk.
    Then on 5JAN, the flt# changes to UA1445, 73G initially flies Days 4/6/7
    and adds Days 1/5 on 15MAR. However, on 6APR, UA1445 frequency will reduce to only one day a week – Saturday. The current schedule goes till 18AUG2012.

    I’m not sure whether Mr. Buisman’s flight schedule was prior to 13AUG.

  • Tony A.

    Also want to add…
    The old schedule of UA999 was:
    IAD-STT 935A-352P SAT
    STT-IAD 225P-534P SAT 1stop SJU

    So if the pax originated from MCI, he still needs a first class cabin between MCI-IAD at the *proper* arrive and depart schedule.

    Looking at UA’s sched between MCI and IAD, there’s no flight that will arrive in IAD early enough to catch this flight. Also, there is no flight departing IAD late enough to go home to MCI.

    Hence, it looks like MCI-IAD-STT is infeasible unless pax spends the night in DC.

  • Tony A.

    I agree. Without seeing the itinerary and fare construction, it’s like the blind leading the blind.

    I think Elliott should really post the ticket details so it’s easier for us to analyze the issues.

  • y_p_w

    Those are all codes from an online reservation system that travel agents use.  A relative of mine used to work as a travel agent, and that inscrutable code hasn’t changed that much in years.  I think the term is “global distribution system” or GDS.

  • flutiefan

    i didn’t find it terse either. i thought that was a curious adjective to use on something that was so obviously generic and straightforwards.

  • Donbuisman

    I booked the flight through my rewards program on my MasterCard.The points were from my credit card and they were worth about a $500 discount off the first class fare. Our flight was delayed due to weather and they put us on a different flight without giving us any other options. They said they could not put us on a flight on a different airline because no one else had first class available either. I would be happy to answer any other questions you have. United still has not even refunded the $130 they said they would. Do you think I should try contacting them through the refund portion of their website again, or do you have a number to a customer service agent I can call?
    Don Buisman

  • Donbuisman

    I don’t want to make any money off this. I paid to fly first class and was downgraded to economy and have received no compensation (they never actually credited me back even the $130 they said they would). When you pay for a Lexus you want a Lexus, not a Toyota. If they give you a Toyota they should refund the difference.

  • Geoff

    Sometimes, you pose a question that the common person can complain about, but has nothing but emotion to respond with. Airline refunds are calculated as follows:
    Take the roundtrip fare
    Calculate the actual amount of the 1 way cost
    Subtract that amount from the total
    Issue horribly low refund.

    This can be fought if you have a great travel agent that knows the exact tarriffs for that particular flight, but it would have to be a real airline savvy agent. 

  • sffilk

    Is there an “end” to this story?  I’m wondering what happened.

  • PauletteB

    You’re assuming that the flight was canceled due to mechanical failure, but that “fact” is not stated in the article.