December 13, 2014

Hang Up, Call Back

It's amazing how many airline phone agents lack basic understanding of their airline's policies.  On our upcoming trip to Hong Kong and Taipei, we were booked on United's 6AM departure from Denver to San Francisco.  That segment was in coach and we had a give hour layover before our long haul flight to Hong Kong.  Certainly less than ideal given that we'd have to wake up at about 3:30 AM the day after Christmas to get to the airport.  So I've been gardening.

I found availability in first class on Christmas night - departing Denver around 7PM and getting into SFO at 8:30.  We've always wanted to fly on Christmas and have found that waking up and having a somewhat normal routine prior to a long haul flight helps us adjust upon arrival.

So I called United and asked to make the change.  I fed the agent my confirmation number and fed the new flight number and seats we'd like.  From there, the conversation went something like this:

Agent:  "I see the available seats on the DEN - SFO segment but I can't make the change."

Me:  "Why not?"

Agent:  "There must be availability for ALL segments to make a change to an award.  And there isn't availability on the SFO - HKG segment."

Me:  "That's weird.  I've made lots of changes to awards in similar situations.  When did that change?"

Agent:  "I don't know.  During our last computer upgrade.  Our new software doesn't let us make changes like that anymore."

That explanation made absolutely no sense.  So I thanked the agent for her time and called back later in the day.  Same script - much different result.  The agent thanked me for being prepared, for my loyalty to United and had the change made in about three minutes.

Moral of the story is that some agents just don't know the rules.  Most are awesome and happy to help.  So hangup and call back!!

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