Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not (so) United

It appears that our friends at United Airlines are having a rough time right now....

No Answer and Lost Upgrades at United: Computer Switch Still Bugging Travelers. Scott McCartney, The Middle Seat Terminal (WSJ)
The United Airlines computer switch has continued to plague some travelers and has kept phone lines completely jammed through midweek, four days after the airline merged its reservations and frequent-flier program information onto Continental Airlines’ system.

Elite-level frequent fliers have complained they haven’t been able to get complimentary upgrades on domestic flights. Some people have said reservations have been dropped or changed, and they’ve received email notes from United to call to straighten it out. Yet some have reported waits on hold of five hours; others say they can’t get through busy signals or dropped calls.
I can attest to this. Despite being confirmed and ticketed, my United reservation says that I need to call them to "re-ticket". I tried to do so and waited on hold for 2 hours before being cut off by their system. I haven't tried again. Based on this article, I'm not going to try again. My wife's recent flight to Seattle said the same thing online. She figured she'd just arrive to the airport early and deal with it there. Despite her old confirmation number not working, there was no problem when speaking with an agent.

That's the tack I plan to take on my upcoming trip to Madrid, just arrive a little early and watch the chaos.

Another thing to watch for (not listed in this article) is that the PQM percentages are all goofy on United.com now. If you're trying to figure out how many PQM's you're going to get for a flight don't use their estimator on individual flight details. Many of them show 0% when they're United metal.

Ah well, in the grand scheme of things the computer goofs are a small thing, but they are illustrative of the many things that go wrong, even in mergers that seem on the surface to be relatively smooth.

If anything, I think United really needs to shore up the customer service end of this mess. Right now their call-in service is a disaster. That's the kind of error that can damage a company long-term if not nipped at the bud.

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