Susan Nordstrom Lopez prepaid for two seat upgrades on a United Airlines flight to London. The upgrade didn’t come through, and neither did her refund. Can our advocates help her obtain her refund from United Airlines?
Question: Six months ago, my husband and I flew on United Airlines to London. We were on the waiting list for upgrades to business class. We prepaid the $1,100 upgrade fee, but did not receive the upgrade. We also didn’t receive a refund of our prepaid upgrade fee. We’ve prepaid for upgrades on United in the past, and we usually receive a refund on our credit card the same day the upgrade doesn’t go through. But not this time. And, we haven’t received our MileagePlus credit for the same flight. I’ve written many emails to the United Airlines service center, but I still can’t get a refund or the mileage credit. What should I do next?– Susan Nordstrom Lopez, Chicago, Ill.
Answer: When you prepaid the upgrade fee for your flight, you had nothing to lose. You took a no-risk gamble. If you didn’t receive the upgrade, you would get your money back. But, this time, your no-risk gamble turned into a high-risk gamble because you didn’t get your money back, and you couldn’t get anyone at United to help you. And you didn’t receive the MileagePlus credit for the same flight.
Essentially, you paid $1,100 more for two economy seats and didn’t even receive the award miles for the flight.
United’s MileagePlus Upgrade Awards system allows members to use a combination of miles and money to fly in an upgraded seat. The miles are deducted from the member’s account, and the payment is made at the time the upgrade is requested. If an upgraded seat is available when the request is made, the upgrade is confirmed.
If a seat isn’t available and the member is waitlisted, United still deducts the miles and charges the upgrade fee when the request is made. But, United “will automatically refund any miles, co-pay and taxes you paid if none of your flights are upgraded.”
There was no question about your entitlement to a refund and to the award miles you earned for the flight. You just couldn’t get anyone at United to do anything to correct the situation.
You reached out to our advocates for help. Alternatively, you could have posted your question to our help forums, which are staffed by travel industry experts, and often read by company executives. Our forum advocates may have had helpful suggestions for you. And, you could have tried escalating your complaint beyond the United Airlines service center, by directly contacting company executives for help. We list executive contact information on our website.
Our advocates contacted United Airlines on your behalf. You received a phone call from a United agent telling you that there was a coding error and that you would have a credit in a few days. We’re happy that we were able to help you resolve this problem.