United Airlines Complaint - Cancelled Flight - No Protection
DENVER, COLORADO -- Last March, I bought a ticket to fly from Denver to Ft. Meyers, Florida for Christmas. I booked the ticket on CheapTickets. It included three segments on United (two of which were code-shared with USAir) and one on Continental. My credit card bill showed United billed for the ticket ($592.80), with a separate charge ($4.99) for CheapTickets.
In the months following, I received a few itinerary changes from CheapTickets and United, all for minor time changes for the United flights. One or two involved new flight numbers; each time I called United for new seat assignments. I received an email confirmation of the entire itinerary from United on August 9 and an e-ticket receipt from United for all four flight segments issued on September 21. In October, CheapTickets sent two more change notices for the United flights, with no change to the Continental leg.
On December 18, 48 hours before departure, I received a notice from CheapTickets of another unspecified itinerary change. I immediately called CheapTickets, and after some confusion on their end, they discovered that the Continental flight had been cancelled. CheapTickets contacted the airlines and told me neither Continental nor United would "protect" me, and CheapTickets wouldn't do anything to get me to my destination, either. So two days before my trip -- on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year -- a ticket I'd bought nine months earlier was useless and my trip cancelled.
I spent more than six hours on the phone (mostly on hold) with United, Continental and CheapTickets. I discovered that the Continental flight actually had been cancelled on August 9. Continental claimed they'd notified United at the time. No one could explain why United sent me a written confirmation of the original Continental flight the day it was cancelled and again the following month, or why it took them more than three months to notify me of the cancellation. Continental said they couldn't offer an alternative flight because they no longer served that route. Even though United had issued the ticket, they wouldn't reroute me because the cancelled segment was on Continental. United found flights to get me to my destination, but only if I paid an additional $1600. The only alternative they offered was to refund the price of the original ticket, which I had no choice but to accept.
I was incredibly frustrated and angry. I contacted United's "Customer Care" group about the last minute cancellation notice and United's refusal to reroute me to my destination. The reply was somewhat incoherent, much in broken English, and included an apparent "stock" response to itinerary change complaints. "We do our best to minimize schedule changes but when they do occur, we arrange for your alternate flights as close as possible to your original itinerary. I am sorry your itinerary was not satisfactory for you…and look forward to your future travel with United." Since this didn't address my situation, I sent a clarification and received another jumbled response. Finally, I asked to be put in touch with a supervisor. The representative refused, citing "policy reasons beyond our reach."
I contacted United's local office in Denver. Their response addressed the details of my situation and was much more coherent, but they still wouldn't take responsibility. United blamed CheapTickets for not notifying me of the Continental cancellation and said "United could only protect you from Denver to Ft. Meyers on Continental because of the way the fare was calculated point to point. In order to change your routing, this would have required a refund of the original ticket and to start over." I don't understand how United can issue a ticket that includes a segment on another carrier, collect the fare, incorrectly confirm that segment even after it's been cancelled, fail to notify the passenger of the itinerary change for more than three months -- yet takes no responsibility to protect the passenger for that itinerary.