United Airlines: What to Do When Award Ticket Changed from Nonstop to Connecting

United Airlines: Fixing Award Ticket Changed from Nonstop to Connecting


Ever had a United Airlines Award Ticket Changed from Nonstop to Connecting and Needed to Fix It? This is what happened to one of our Award Booking clients bound for Hawaii.

The original award ticket was in United Polaris in a lie flat seat on a 767-300ER nonstop from Newark EWR to Honolulu HNL and was booked last year, for a trip this spring.

Unfortunately, just recently United eliminated the nonstop flight that he was on (there's only one daily), and instead put him on connecting flights, EWR-LAX and LAX-HNL. These new flights had three problems:

  1. Connecting instead of nonstop
  2. Arrived at HNL 1 hour 30 minutes later than the nonstop
  3. The LAX-HNL flight only had recliner seats, so that meant half his journey wouldn't be in a lie flat seat


None of United's Options Acceptable

United offered three options:

  1. Accept the substituted flights, with the stopover in LAX and recliner seat LAX-HNL
  2. Change to a different award that had award space
  3. Receive a refund of his United MileagePlus award miles

None of these was acceptable to the client. He wanted the nonstop EWR-LAX flight, but this flight was only available on a day two days prior, and no award space was available.


The Resolution: Getting United to Open Up a Revenue Seat

We could see that United was still selling Polaris seats on the alternate date the client was willing to fly, even though United wasn't making any award seats available.

We called, and predictably, the first customer service representative said that it wasn't possible to switch us: there were no award seats. That's when we politely asked to speak with a supervisor.

After some hold time, we were able to speak with a supervisor, and explained that we'd reserved the client's original award ticket months ago, specifically for the nonstop and the flat bed seat, which the client needs due to a medical condition. Since United had eliminated the nonstop on the day the client was booked, we were asking United to open up a revenue seat on an alternate date acceptable to the client, so that he could fly the itinerary and aircraft type he originally was booked in. While it took some time to accomplish, the supervisor was eventually able to make this change.


The Takeaway: Monitor your award reservations to catch any changes to your route or aircraft, since often you won't receive an email. The sooner you catch the change and call the airline, the better your chance of securing an acceptable alternative. And while an airline isn't obligated to open up a revenue seat as an award, if you're polite, persistent, and make a persuasive case, it's definitely worth a try. It certainly was in this client's case.

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