A rescheduled flight — and a lost night at a hotel

By | December 5th, 2011

David and Dorothy Juergens are looking forward to their fourth Princess cruise next month. There’s just one little problem: Their airline rescheduled their flight, and that messed up their schedule — and cost them money.

Airline schedule changes are a fact of life, and it’s usually unrealistic for passengers to expect a carrier to compensate them for lost wages or extra expenses incurred as a result of change in flight plans. But this just might be one of those rare exceptions.

I’ll let you decide if this trip can be saved.

It all started when the couple booked their December cruise through a AAA-affiliated travel agency. Their agent offered two options:

#1 Sunday, Dec. 11, from Cleveland to Houston at 6 a.m. (2 hr. stopover); arrive in San Juan at 4:25 p.m.

#2 Saturday, Dec. 10, from Cleveland nonstop to San Juan at 9 a.m.; arrive 2:11 p.m.

“We chose option two because of the nonstop flight,” says Dorothy Juergens. “We paid the added cost of $328 plus tax for one pre-night hotel reservation at the Sheraton Puerto Rico.”

But then in September, United Airlines canceled their nonstop flight, rebooking them on the Sunday one-stop flight. If the Juergenses wanted to change back to a Saturday one-stop flight, they would have to pay a change fee.

When Juergens asked their travel agent how the airline could such a thing, the agent replied, “Because they can.”

Details are in United’s Rule 240 (PDF).






Ahh, my ears are hurting from all the yelling!

Anyway, I’m not the only one who is annoyed.

“We thought this bait-and-switch tactic was wrong,” says Juergens. “We asked the AAA agent if either Princess, AAA, or Continental would compensate us for the pre-night hotel reservation.”

Princess Cruises customer relations was sympathetic, but told the couple that “airlines do this all the time” and the cruise line would go broke if they compensated everyone this happens to.

AAA also said no, even though the couple had been members for 25 years.

United offered to pay for their room at an airport hotel in Cleveland on Saturday night, but they declined.

“Frankly, we were leery of what those accommodations might be like,” says Juergens.

She’s determined not to let this airline problem spoil their cruise. They now plan to fly on Saturday, stay at the Sheraton, board this ship on Sunday and be on their way.

“It’s just aggravating that airlines do this because they can,” she says. “It’s disappointing that Princess simply passes the buck back to the airlines. And it’s sad that AAA disregards customer loyalty.”

I realize that an airline sometimes has to reschedule its flight, but it appears as if United didn’t so much reschedule this flight as it did these passengers — arbitrarily rebooking them from the Saturday flight to the Sunday flight. Then it told the couple it would charge them a change fee to put them back on a flight on their desired day of travel.

While I think the offer to pay for their hotel is good, it would have been even better if United had booked them on a the right day. I wonder if this is one of those rare occasions when I should ask United to reconsider its decision.

  • y_p_w

    I’m surprised they didn’t at least give the option of taking the Sat one-stop flight without a change fee.

    Are some customer service reps given bonuses that are contingent on how much in change fees they can extract from their customers?

  • Sally

    Unbelievable that the airline would make them pay extra to get back on the same flight that they booked to begin with. Had the flight been canceled it would be understandable, but it appears they were re-booked in a willy-nilly fashion. The fee to go back to the original date is wrong.  

  • djp

    I am very surprised……When there computer rebooks them I am assuming they had no idea of the reason for their traveling.  They planned on traveling on Saturday but they forced them to change to Sunday. 

    I would be contacting higher level personnel at the airline and complain. 

    I recall Delta doing this when it was merging with Northwest where they shook up their routes.  I was notified of an auto rebooking in their system where they moved my reservation to 5 hrs earlier and they added a second stop. this conflicted with the purpose of my trip. I called their executive level customer service office and got it changed to flight options more accomodating to my travel plans.

    They purchased a specific itinerary and the airline basically reniged on their end of the deal but they still want to screw the customer over.

    Its best to get on the airline right when this change happens and not sit on it.  The airline may think you sitting on it is your acceptance of the change then if you respond within say 24-48 hrs of the change.

  • Chris

    not the same flight : same day, but one stop instead of direct !

  • Chris

    What is their travel agent doing : they paid extra for a non stop-flight, and when it is cancelled, they get rebooked for the following day on a one-stop. Even if they had been rebooked on a non-stop the same day, they would be deserving of compensation. 
    And the travel agent just sides with the airline ???
    I think you could ask United to start being intelligent, and the travel agent to refund its commission, as he is clearly not earning his money the right way !!!

  • $16635417

    You shouldn’t have to advocate for the Juergens, they have a travel agent who should be doing the behind the scenes work. This should be a slam dunk for a competent travel agent.

    In any case, please save the dramatics. Bait and switch…seriously?

  • ChrisY

    Whenever I’ve had an involuntary flight change – no matter what class of service – I’ve never heard of an airline charging a change fee to change the date or even the airport.  I think that’s what could be mediated in this case. 

    It’s actually of really generous of United to offer to pay for the pre-flight hotel.  “Frankly,” in the words of the OP, I’m baffled by the obstinance in accepting it:

    “Frankly, we were leery of what those accommodations might be like,” says Juergens.

    Why?  Did they ask United what hotel that would be? 

    So, my vote is to mediate getting the same-day flight.  Nothing in the CoC prevents United from doing so explicitly, so it is reasonable.  Beyond that, a slap on the wrist to the TA, who, according to the story, has done absolutely nothing to help.

  • Raven_Altosk

    United should’ve offered them the Saturday one stop without a change fee.

    Once again, customer service (and common sense) was lost during the merger. CO is taking on UA’s lousy reputation…ugh.

  • Chris in NC

    Absolutely you should mediate this one. There is absolutely no reason that Juergens should fly on Sunday! All it takes is a December snowstorm to cancel flights, then they would miss their cruise. 

    Why is United insisting that the replacement flight be on Sunday? That is very strange. Is it because the Juergens is insisting on the one-stop flight? Are they being offered any number of the connecting flights? As ChrisY says, mediate this case only to get the Juergens on a Saturday flight. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Where is the AAA travel agent on this one? The agent is being paid to be an advocate and he/she is simply lazy or incompetent. Regardless, the agent should be the one fixing this situation.


  • Sarabz

    It’s one thing when something happens and a flight is changed or rescheduled. It’s another when the original flight is fine, but the passengers are not only bumped from it, but bumped to a separate day AND unable to move back to the original flight without a fee. What a scam.

  • emanon256

    I don’t get the agent here.  Why would the agent tell them that the airlines do this, “because they can.”  It not like the airline is going out of its way to screw with people because they can.  They are in the processes of merging and keep cutting routes.  The airline has no way of knowing why they are flying or what they need.  This should be resolved with a simple phone call, preferably from the agent.  I am not sure why the OP would even call the airline when they hired an agent to do so.  I have used AAA agents before and always thought they were pretty good.
    What surprises me first is the airline charging them to put them back on a flight the same day. That does not make sense.  I have had schedule changes in advance, and on many airlines, United included, even low cost carriers, they have always switched me to whatever flight/routing I wanted when I have called in.  It sounds like section 1 of the COC states that the OP can be routed on any United flight to the same destination at no cost to them.  So I am wondering if the $150 is a misunderstanding.  Again, something the agent should deal with.
    My second surprise is that United offered to put them up in a hotel and pay for it.  Just United offering to do something helpful like this, which will basically offset the lost cost they are paying, is extremely generous.  The fact that a solution was offered and they turned it down makes them loose credibility in my eyes, sounds like they are now looking to make money off of this.
    I am going to vote not to mediate for now.  I think the OP should call United back, and see if a different agent will change their flight.  The schedule change was not their fault, so United should have no problem putting them on a different flight.  I am concerned however, that by turning down the hotel offer from United, the OP may have shot themselves in the foot.  If it’s too late for anything then the agent needs to step up to the plate and ask United to change their flight.

  • emanon256

    The original flight was canceled. They were not just inadvertently bumped from a flight that is still scheduled; the flight was removed from United’s routing altogether.  So it no longer exists for them to be moved back to.

  • emanon256

    I have experienced the exact opposite, before the merger Untied always had great customer service and amazing agents whose went above and beyond, since the merger, it’s as if they don’t care anymore.
    My new theory is that both sides were great before the merger, and they are using the merger as an excuse to cut everything and provide the lowest quality service possible.  So former CO people think it’s UAs fault, and former UA people think it’s COs fault.  Every time another service is cut in Denver, they tell us it’s to more closely align with CO’s offerings, yet CO had the service too, so I imagine they are cutting CO services and telling CO folks it’s to more closely align with UA’s offerings.

  • john4868

    I’ve never had an issue with CO, or UA for that matter, charging a change fee when they cancel a flight. In fact, I thought their written policy is that they would accomodate you on the routing and you could CHANGE what the computer booked without fee as long as you did it when it first occurred. I’ve never had them change dates on me when there are seats available on the original date booked.

    Since there’s is TA involved, I would be interested to hear from UA what their version is. I wonder if the TA screwed up and rebooked them on the flight a day later or is it possible that there are no seats left on Sat?

    The only person that might be on the hook her is the TA and that’s only if they used the client’s free change to move them to a different date without asking.

  • BillC

    It looks like it’s time for a new travel agent. I think that there are communication issues between UA, the TA and the clients.

    UA should allow them to book the Saturday one-stop flight with no change fee. It is possible that with the cancellation of the non-stop Saturday flight the one-stop Saturday flight is now full and UA is trying to be as helpful as possible. They cannot create seats that do not exist. 

  • Tony A.

    Chris: Maybe I misread the post but you said – “arbitrarily rebooking them from the Sunday flight to the Saturday flight.” The way I read it, the Jeurgen’s originally HAD a Saturday departure so they can stay Saturday night at a hotel in SJU before they embarked on a cruise the next day, Sunday. Then the airline cancelled their Saturday flights and changed them to Sunday. Correct?

    Question: is this  probably one of those ASTA type travel agents affiliated with AAA? Well, I got to tell you that in this case they are not worth their commission and extra service fees (if they charge any from the Juergens).

    Let’s make this easy for everyone. Just checked my GDS for current non-stop CLE-SJU options for UA/CO. Guess what?  The Sat and Sun nonstop CO/UA1275 starts 17DEC. There are none for 10DEC AND 11DEC. So, this post is kinda stupid in a way because there is no nonstop flight to chase and the Juergens should be re-accommodated to their planned DAY of departure (Saturday).

    And you really don’t need  COCs to protect you since the FARE RULES waive penalties in case of schedule changes:

        TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.                                 
        WAIVED FOR SCHEDULE CHANGE.                               

        BEFORE DEPARTURE                                          
          CHARGE USD 150.00 FOR REISSUE/UNTICKETED PTA.           
          WAIVED FOR SCHEDULE CHANGE.                             

    So what probably happened to the Juergens? It sound’s like they got a robo change (machine makes a mindless re-accommodation). They got moved to a Sunday departure (from Saturday making them miss their hotel booking). At this point the AAA travel agent should have contacted the Juergens first. This is the procedure for agent-made bookings – They will see a UN or WK status on the old flight segments and TK on the new PROPOSED flight segments. This alerts the TA to contact the passengers and get their confirmation of the changes *before* the TA acknowledges the changes.
    If the passenger does not like the change, the TA should find a suitable alternative.

    The travel agent probably confirmed (erroneously)  the Sunday departure, instead of changing the Jeurgen’s itinerary to a connecting flight for Saturday. Of course it takes a little work to reissue a ticket (refund – exchange) but that’s the work of a TA.

    Sorry that this case stinks to high heavens – very lousy travel agent.

  • Ames

    I don’t understand why anyone thinks the offer of a hotel in Cleveland is generous – they planned to stay in Porto Rico on Saturday night.  The PAX chose a very responsible way to travel to a cruise – arriving the day before so any weather or other snafus would still allow enough time to get to the cruise on time.  The airline is taking that extra time away.  Now what happens is the flight is delayed, does everyon say they shoudl have know better and arrived the day before?   The hotel offer might have been “generous” if they had to switch to a Friday flight and needed to spend two nights in Porto Rico (assuming their schedule could accomodate the extra day) but it is not generous to offer the added risk of a same day flight and cruise.  The airline should accomodate them on Saturday for no fee.  And the TA shoudl be ashamed of him/herself.

  • Charles

    Airlines can be obnoxious but this one takes the cake.  Cancelling the flight they were booked on, rescheduling them to the next day and then only letting them fly out on the day they wanted to if they paid a change fee? Come on! If they had just allowed them to fly out as they planned to do on Saturday, even though there would be a stop, I would side with the airline.  But to impose a change fee to let them fly out on the day they originally booked smacks of extortion.  Jeez.  This is almost worthy of a news story in the mainstream press.

  • Ames

    Chris,  Reading through again the PAX wanted to travel on Saturday – got rebooked by airline to Sunday at the beginning, but by the end of the artcle, I think you have the airline changing them from Sunday to Saturday.  And the final result is that the PAX paid for a non-stop flight on Saturday and a hotel rooom in PR, then paid the change fee to get a one-stop flight on Saturday to keep to their original itinerary?  Certainly the change fee should be refunded.  (Not to mention the potential difference in cost between the direct and one stop fare or the aggravation, which it does not appear they are seeking.)

  • othermike27

    Agree – whatever this is, it isn’t a bait-and-switch.

  • Right you are. I fixed it.

  • Tony A.

    No, Chris needs to advocate AGAINST the travel agent. From what I read, the flight changed last September for a 10/11 Dec departure. It should have been fixed at that time when (presumably) there were more seats open at the lower priced booking classes.

    IMO, these kinds of travel agents should make it to the wall of shame. They didn’t seem to have advocated for their clients who bought a cruise, air and hotel from them?

    I don’t think United would budge now since it’s a bit to late from September.

  • Tony A.

    they really suck today. very difficult to get simple waivers for changes caused by them. seems to be confusion among the ranks.

  • y_p_w

    I certainly think that putting them up in a hotel on Sat night sounds generous, but what good is that to the Jeurgens?  It doesn’t really sound all that great to me from their point of view, although it’s might be a wash in terms of revenue for United.  They didn’t indicate which hotel in Cleveland, so we can’t even do a quick estimate of how much it might cost United.

    It’s also not clear whether or not the Jeurgens already paid for their hotel room in San Juan.  If it was prepaid without the ability to cancel, then I could see that they would be upset.  However, I looked up the Sheraton Puerto Rico.  They’re showing as low as $191 for two doubles and $239 for a king junior suite – all AAA discount rates, which I would assume they would qualify for.  The hotel taxes and fees are 25% though (what’s a “14% hotel service fee”?).  I see no prepaid rates (the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino does have prepaid rates).  There could be all sorts of “club floor” and more expensive suites.  The rates I see can all be cancelled.


  • It sounds like the OP did everything right.  They booked all necessary travel, set to arrive the day before the cruise started and even paid extra money to get a direct flight, their preference.  The airline decides this just can’t be and changes their flight to the next day, with a layover.  Oh, and by the way, that extra money you paid for the non-stop?  Too bad, so sad…  We can ALSO give you back that original flight BUT you have to pay us to change it back.  NEXT!

    Jeez louise – if this isn’t extortion I don’t know what is…

  • Magnet1125

    i am not a travel expert, but I think you should have said one stop instead of direct…my understanding is direct means a flight with at least one stop, but no change of planes

  • $16635417

    Yep…schedule changes happen. It sounds like the TA ignored their queues or accepted the change in their GDS. I would like to hear what they have to say and a seeing a printout of the history of the PNR would go a long way! I suspect TA neglect.

  • Magnet1125

    sorry, I should have said non-stop instead of direct

  • Andrew, NYC

    Option 3 offers a refund; how about getting that and booking a different carrier?  Of course, Juergens should’ve done that back in September, not a week before the flight.
    This option doesn’t change the fact that United is acting like a scoolyard bully.  Air carriage contracts are completely unsymmetrical: the passengers can’t cancel their flight and reschedule it for the next day — but the airline does just that with impunity “because they can”.

  • Chris

    Without a change fee … and without the additional fare they paid for a non-stop flight !…

  • Chris

    Glad to see that had the airline rescheduled them on the same day “even though there would be a stop” and pocketed the fare difference they chose to pay to choose the direct flight, you would have sided with the airline !… 

  • Bree28

    Tony, you are right on with your explanation!

  • Lindabator

    Actually, I don’t know why the travel agent didn’t go to bat for them, and have United move them to another flight on the 10th (since it was an involuntary change, they should have been allowed to switch, REGARDLESS of the difference in fare).  Unless the other flight was sold out and in an overbooked situation.

  • Lindabator

    HAHAHA!  Barely paid in the FIRST place – much less bonuses!

  • Lark

    Best response of the day. We read almost weekly about someone who missed a cruise because they took a flight the same day as the cruise left. The airline needs to change with no fees. And the TA needs to retire. Maybe they could work for the TA?

  • Lindabator

    NOT the same flight.  The nonstops were cancelled.  The airline moved them to a single stop the following day, but not on the same day.  I’d be interested to see if this was because it was actually already an overbooked flight, so they would not want to offer it.

  • Lindabator

    Actually, just because they paid more has no impact on this.  You may CHOOSE to pay more for a particular flight, but the airline is not required to guarantee you a nonstop, or a set time, just to get you from A to Z.  The agent SHOULD have worked with the airline to get the single stop on the day they chose, or to find out why they couldn’t fly it (might have been an overbooked flight).  in which case, a full refund is in order, and then a rebook with another airline.  IF the cost was feasible.  I think AAA screwed this one up.

  • Lindabator

    MORE than a slap on the wrist.  They are entitled to be moved to a comparable flight (unless now it is actully overbooked), or to a full refund.

  • Charles

    Well, alright, maybe I didn’t think that one all the way through.  But the fact is, sh– happens.  Maybe they should have been due a partial refund, even if they still got to fly out on the day they booked, I don’t know.  But airfars of course are very complicated and there may have been no difference between what they paid and what it would cost to fly on the one-stop flight on Saturday anyway.

  • Lindabator

    But we do not know the circumstances – they may have other options (I think the travel agent never called, frankly).  The airline wouldn’t be charging more money to change flights in this case, so I really think the agent accepted the changes, and the clients really had no choice after the fact.  Bad moves, AAA!

  • Lindabator

    Actually, the fare difference is a moot point — the airlines are only required to get you from point a to z, and if they no longer fly there nonstop, then they will still get you there or refund you.  Since a refund was never even offfered in this case, I believe the travel agent accepted the original changes without consulting the client (or paying any attention) and then the client said unacceptable, and now this is just a nonrefundable, with all the regular terms and conditions.  This is definately a AAA problem!

  • Lindabator

    What did you read?  The nonstop was CANCELLED.  They were not BUMPED – they were moved to an actual flight, as theirs no longer operated.  What the article said was they wanted the same day of travel they originally had, just on the connecting flight for that day, rather than be moved to Sunday. 

  • Charlie

    Something is amiss here.  The tariff provides that the client can CANCEL the booking and receive a refund if they do not accept the schedule change.  Why didn’t the TA just invoke that provision and rebook the clients on a Saturday flight.  Can’t quite tell if it’s sardines or anchovies, but somehting smells fishy and it emanates from AAA.


  • warped

    Chris, were these flights booked through Princess or direct with Continental/United?  

    The travel agent is at least partially at fault here.  1) they should’ve been monitoring the reservation and caught this schedule change when it happened not a few months later when they are getting ready to travel.  2) they should be the one pushing back for the client either with the cruiseline (if the flights were booked through Princess) or with the airline.  Telling a client that the airlines do this “because they can” is just wrong.

  • Lindabator

    Hence the reason for the $150.00 change fee.  Once the re-accommodation was accepted, the ticket now becomes the standard non-refundable, and any additional changes are treated as such.  I really think this is the travel agent’s error, and AAA should make this right.

  • Lindabator

    NOT the original flight, as there ARE no longer the nonstop options.  And paying money for the flight you want, does NOT mean getting it back when there is a flight schedule cancellation (no more nonstops, no more routes).  And I believe the travel agent accepted the schedule change, and that is why they would charge a change fee, as the new ticket was already accepted, and this would be considered a new ticket.

  • Lindabator

    But that is according to the travel agent – who I firmly believe screwed over the client by accepting the changes and then doing nothing more.  ANY schedule change is arbitrarily assigned without your agrement – they may offer it, but it STILl needs to be accepted before the change is actully made.  That’s why I think the agent accepted it without their consent and doesn’t want to take the responsibility for the muck-up. 

  • Zedp3

    What if there was a critical event taking place Saturday night? Or a cruise ship that left at 7am on Sunday morning? The airline had no consideration for these pax needs (or WANTS, they should get what they paid for and nothing less). United should be obligated to get them to San Juan within a reasonable time window of their originally purchased arrival (say +/- two hours). Whether this costs United money or not, it was their business decision to change flight schedules, and should not be foisted upon the passengers to deal with the fallout.

  • Charlie

    DING DING DING DING DING.  No more calls, we have a winner!  Almost certainly someone accepted the schedule change without paying attention.  AAA owns this one, NOT the air carrier.

  • Michelle B.

    OK, since no one else has mentioned it yet: The OP should have used a real brick and mortar travel agency instead of Expedia/Priceline/everything else that gets bashed on this site/ . Oh wait, they did! Just goes to prove that it’s not just the online agencies who perform shoddy service.

  • Michael K

    How is this NOT a bait and switch?

    Customer purchases X for a specific date, possibly many months in advance.  They possibly paid a premium over other options to make sure they got X (the bait).

    Vendor — at the last minute — tells the customer that they will not receive X and instead will receive inferior service Y (the switch).  No less they will not receive Y on the date purchased but on a *different* date of the vendor’s choosing.

    Customer is refused a refund of their original purchase price for X (their sunk cost) and is refused the service they originally purchased on the date they purchased it for.  If they still want X on the service date purchased they would have to forfeit their sunk cost and incur additional expense.

  • y_p_w

    I’m guessing rebooking at a later date might come with an increased fare?

  • y_p_w

    I don’t even think they care that much about the exact time window as long as they get to San Juan on Saturday.  I’d guess that they might have prepaid for their hotel room in San Juan, and would like to be able to use it.

  • Charlie

    I think AAA accepted a schedule change without realizing the magnitude of the change.  The airline is released from responsibility for further changes once the agent accepted the schedule change.  I think this one belongs to AAA

  • Bodega

    You are assuming that the published are was different on a nonstop vs a connecting flight.  It could have been the same, just that the lower priced seats on the nonstop were sold out at the time purchase.

  • Josh

    It does sound like the travel agent may actually be at fault here — when the airline proposes a nontrivial schedule change, IME you’ve always been able to find the best replacement schedule or even get a refund…unless you accept the new schedule.  It seems possible that the agent did just that, without consulting the customer.  If that’s the case, it’s completely on them to fix it (covering any change fees), and both Chris and the customer should be pushing them to make it right.

  • Bodega

     Sounds like an agent who is new and dealt with an offshore desk who are awful to deal with.   I have NEVER had a problem with protecting my clients on the same day of travel.  Since every change made is in history in the PNR, UA can go in and see that they were booked on Saturday and get them on flights for that day. I am sorry that the OP’s had to deal with this.  I hope it is straighten out now and refund on the change fee credited back to their credit card.

  • $16635417

    There was no intent to deceive. Airline schedule changes are a common part of the business. (Notice you only hear about the negative ones, never the ones that work out better.)

    I did not see a mention of paying a premium.

    Airlines WILL give a refund if you are unhappy with the new schedule, it is actually part of the their fare rules.

    That being said, it is becoming increasingly apparent the travel agent did not do their job right based on other posts to this column.

  • Tony A.

    Actually the business model of many unscrupulous offline agencies found on the web is exactly what you said. They purposely want the customer to make a mistake because their change fees are huge, gotcha traps. But, I don’t think this is the way a AAA travel agent makes money. They charge service fees upfront. Usually they are good TAs. But all you need is one rotten apple (maybe not well trained).

  • Tony A.

    I also want to add that I have never seen a robo-accommodation for the next day from UA/CO when there are several connecting flights on the SAME day (as the flight being cancelled). This is why I suspect the agent was trying to keep the “non-stopness” of the flights and changed the flight to the next day him/herself. At that point (after reissue) as Linda said the new ticket became nothing but a standard non-ref ticket.

    Agencies are suppose to put all the non-air travel segments in the itinerary so they will see if they are creating mistakes. In this case if the Sheraton booking for Saturday night was in the same PNR, then it would be so obvious that the Jeurgens did not need a flight on Sunday. Duh.

  • Tony A.

    Michelle, anyone can make a mistake (including me)!
    The point is how to fix a mistake. Admit it, fix it and move on.

  • Tony A.

    I really doubt UA/CO auto re-accommodated for the NEXT day (Sunday). That’s too strange given that they had other flights on Saturday (although connecting). So, I really think the TA made the changes for Sunday and reissued a ticket.

    By the way, the UA/CO regional sales coordinator desk here (NYC) is hit or miss now. The coordinators are confused between the old CO and UA rules. I can see why the AAA agent could not get out of a bind that easily.

  • IGoEverywhere

    The airlines know how to make everything tip 51% in their favor. I have raley beat them in business. and there is nobody out there that seems to want to initiate an old fashioned “Ralph Nader” against them. BTW, I do believe that they would have received a decnt hotel from United, after all, the hotel are using the same scemes as the airlines; they love each other.

  • Lindabator

    Again, AAA blew this — the ONLy way you would have to change WITH a fee, is if the original change was ACCEPTED, and THEn you changed again.  So the agent HAD to accept the changes, and the airlines are no longer responsible for your further voluntary changes.

  • Lindabator

    And that is why AAA should be called to task for this.  If our agency had screwed the pooch like this agent OBVIOUSLY did, we would be making it right – and it that meant we pay for it, so be it!

  • Eric

    I voted “YES”.  United should have booked them on the non-stop intinerary on the same day they were originally scheduled to fly.  To change their travel dates without their consent and then demand a fee to change it back is a pretty scummy thing to do.  Yet another reason why I never fly United.

  • Eric

    Oops.  I meant to say the one stop intinerary.

  • TomRI

    Where was there a schedule change? they moved them from Sat to Sun and the Sat flight was still taking off but just moved it’s time slot , so who is that a change?  

  • Peg

    I would demand AAA give a premium class trip insurance policy for this mess. If they miss the boat, they’re screwed.

  • Michael K

    1) “Intent to deceive” is irrelevant.  Every merchant in every bait and switch can argue that they offered the originally advertised product without intent to deceive.  And since we aren’t mind readers, it’s practically impossible to prove otherwise.

    2) As far as we can tell from Chris’ article, the fare rules were ignored in this case.  The change fee was NOT waived (in spite of fare rule language to the contrary).  And there is no mention of any refund offer that would have allowed the OP’s to book with a different carrier in September.

  • y_p_w

    It’s still unclear whether or not United unilaterally offered to rebook for Sunday, or whether the TA made that decision and essentially locked in either Sunday or Saturday with a change fee.

  • $16635417

    1. The FTC definition includes intent. This is why the term gets thrown around and makes it difficult to prove.
    2. We don’t know if the fare rules were ignored, it sounds like the TA accepted or ignored the schedule cahnge until it was too late and is now passing the blame to United.

  • Michael K

    Notice you only hear about the negative ones, never the ones that work out better


    Are you suggesting that if an airline added a new non-stop route, then they would automatically re-schedule existing  passengers who already booked that route with a connection?

    If the answer is “no” then it sounds to me like the consumer gets the short end either way.

  • $16635417

    I once had a Chicago to Seattle flight connecting in Denver. (At the time, much cheaper than a non-stop.) United ran a schedule cahnge causing a misconnect and I was placed on the non-stop.

    I’ve also had connection times reduced…so yes, it happens.

    I don’t know about your scenario as I cannot recall an instance where a non-stop was added after the initial schedule was published and a connecting ticket purchased.

    Again…the blame is going to United on this…but signs point to a poor travel agent and it is far from a bait and switch.

  • Jikinn

    It seems that airlines could just randomly switch people from one flight to another and then charge them to switch back to the flight they wanted (and paid for) in the first place. This is ridiculous! It certainly seems like a scam.

  • Tony A.

    Maybe I am dense but what good would a 5-star hotel do for them in Cleveland? Didn’t they start their journey from Cleveland anyway? So what would an airport hotel do for them there?

    I live in the woods southwestern  CT near the NY border. If I had a United flight out of JFK and they offered me any hotel in the JFK airport I would tell them to DROP DEAD. Staying at my home is significantly nicer and safer than staying at that part of Queens NY.

    The couple wanted to AND PAID FOR a hotel in Puerto Rico for Saturday night. How difficult can it be to get them there? Count the number of flight combinations that can make that happen, at least 11. Shouldn’t the AAA travel agent just processed a refund in the first place and booked something else last September?

    10DEC-SA-156P CLESJU ET **      
    1  #UA4236   CLEPHL-1250P 217P  *0
    2  #UA2676      SJU- 545P1030P  *0  8.40

    3*A#UA5829   CLEIAD- 605A 719A  *0
    4*A#UA 699      SJU- 828A 100P   0  5.55

    5*A#UA6075   CLEORD- 605A 632A  *0
    6*A#UA 568      SJU- 837A 307P   0  8.02

    7*A#UA1654   CLEIAH- 600A 810A  *0
    8*A#UA1573      SJU-1015A 425P  *0  9.25

    10DEC-SA-156P CLESJU ET **                 
    1*S#DL4878   CLEATL-1148A 137P   0
    2*S#DL 425      SJU- 305P 745P   0  6.57
    3*S#DL4878   CLEATL-1148A 137P   0
    4*S#DL 427      SJU- 500P 933P   0  8.45

    10DEC-SA-156P CLESJU ET ** 
    1*O#AA4242   CLEJFK-1220P 200P   0
    2*O#AA1635      SJU- 335P 845P   0  7.25

    3*O#AA1003   CLEDFW- 115P 325P   0
    4*O#AA 606      SJU- 445P1110P   0  8.55

    5*O#AA4242   CLEJFK-1220P 200P   0
    6*O#AA1639      SJU- 555P1100P   0  9.40

    7*O#AA3514   CLEMIA- 610A 920A   0
    8*O#AA1845      SJU-1015A 145P   0  6.35

    US AIR:
    10DEC-SA-156P CLESJU ET ** 
    1*A#US2507   CLECLT- 336P 520P   0
    2*A#US1038      SJU- 615P1044P   0  6.08

    3*A#US3106   CLECLT-1020A1201P   0
    4*A#US1036      SJU- 120P 556P   0  6.36

  • Michael K

    I’m referring to the plain-English usage of “bait-and-switch”.

    You are focusing on the very high legal thresholds.

    A functional bait-and-switch is not necessarily illegal, and even if/when it is it’s extraordinarily hard to prove.

    What the consumer experiences is the same either way.

  • Tony A.

    It would be nicer if AAA simply made sure this couple got to San Juan, PR early enough on Saturday 10DEC11 so that they can enjoy that evening in the Sheraton. That’s what they paid for.

  • Tony A.

    I don’t think you read and understood the gist of this thread.
    Under UA’s fare rules you can cancel -or- change ONCE without penalty when they cause a flight schedule change to your ticketed itinerary. If you make a (legitimate) change and both you and United accepts the change then your new itinerary is back to being non-refundable and changeable only with a penalty fee.

    If the OP accepted the flight changes to Sunday then he gets it and he’s stuck there. If he wanted to change again to Saturday, he needs to pay the change penalty and fare difference (if any).

    So this is not a scam.

  • Tom Brollini

    What can you say.  IT’S UNITED!  The scumbag, puke airlines that loves to screw it’s customers.

    If you get a chance read my previous post on them & how I cost them thousands.

    GO GET EM C.E.

  • Guest

    ‘I’m referring to the plain-English usage of “bait-and-switch”.’

    Which, unfortunately, tends to get tossed around loosely also.

  • Guest

    Based on what I’ve read here, I’d say you’re right on the money. I’ve dealt with similar instances of this, especially caused by an agent who…sigh…screwed up, for lack of a better term.

  • Susan N

    The thing is that you don’t purchase a specific itinerary – you purchase a ticket from A to B.
    Of course, airlines pretty much always let you cancel or (often) change your routing if they change your routing significantly. However, travel agents have different rules which you must follow when you book with them.

  • Travelingiraffe

    I had a UA flight change of over 2 hours this year. When the change is over 2 hours you can cancel the flight or change the flight without a fee, including a reroute.

    My flight was a dirt cheap flight to Hawaii and they canceled it with no questions asked once I said the flight was changed over 2 hours.

    The 2 hour rule is in their contract of carriage!

  • Lindabator

    But in the case of involuntary change, the airlines rules would be in effect – i believe the agent accepted the new dates without calling the clients, and now it is treated as a standard nonrefundable for any further changes.  All AAA’s fault.

  • Lindabator

    Actually, I think the blame actually lies with the agent – I think she accepted the original changes without contacting the client, and when that is done, the new ticket is treated as a standard nonrefundable, so if they now want to change it again, there is a fee.

  • Lindabator

    Yep – AAA’s fault completely.  Such a shame for the clients – and it makes a GOOD agent’s work that much harder!

  • Lindabator

    NO – the nonstop flight was cancelled, not moved. 

  • Lindabator

    Again – learn to READ!  The NONSTOP flight was cancelled, so they were moved to another flight — but once the agent accepts the change, any further changes cost money – AAA should never have accepted the change. 

  • Joe Farrell

    Who is AAA the agent for?  The airline / cruise company or the passenger?  That controls the legal result.

    In this case- assuming the AAA is the agent of the passenger – and they made the decision to change to the one-stop flight – without asking their customer – then any change fee or fare difference belongs to AAA. 

    How can it be any other way?  If AAA acts as the agent of the passenger and accepts the change from the airline – then – the passenger is screwed-  how  can the travel agent accept a change without asking his/her client?  If they do – then they get hung with any change fees – its simple and its logical and it makes certain the agent does the clients bidding. . .

  • Ajaynejr

    The airline should have changed them at no extra charge to the flight of their choice out of every flight still on the schedule.

    If the travel agency accepted a change without the traveler’s consent then the travel agency should make good.

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