united airlines award flight

United Airlines Took My Miles But They Didn’t Book My Flight

United Airlines screwed me on time and miles.  But let’s start the story from the beginning.  On a Thursday evening at 6pm, I decided to join my friends on a trip to Asia.  By 7pm I had my tickets booked.  At 9pm I was packed. By 10pm I was at the airport.


I met up with some friends on a Saturday to hangout.  They were going to the Philippines in a few days for a big vacation.  I was invited but didn’t really need to go on another vacation at the moment.  Everything was just so relaxing in my life already and I took a long vacation just a few months ago.  But what the heck, I’ll go if work allows it.


I asked my boss if I could go on vacation starting at the end of the work week.  He said he’d talk it over with his manager and look at the upcoming workload.


Vacation approved!  I got 2.5 weeks off with the agreement of calling in to stretch it out to 3.5 weeks if it’s not too busy.  Time to start looking for a flight.

I looked at the weather in the Philippines and it looked like it was going to be 100F with full humidity and a lightning storm.  This did not seem pleasant.  I decided to start looking into a pre-vacation vacation before meeting them up.  I’ve wanted to go to Korea but my Korean friend said he’d join me for that after the Philippines.  I’ve also wanted to go to Hokkaido and just hang out for a week.  That’s the new plan.

As I’m looking for availability to Japan, I’m not seeing much in the premium seats.  I wanted to book using my AA miles since I have a lot sitting around.  Those weren’t an option for this last minute trip so I had to look elsewhere.  I looked into United, Avianca, Singapore and Alaska.  No ideal flight times in the premium cabins.  I found something on Singapore but it leaves Saturday and I want to go earlier than that.

6/11/12: 6:00pm

Work is just about done for the day and I’m still looking for flights so I can make an award booking.

I found availability in Economy on ANA with United miles.  The flight leaves in 6 hours.  It’s in economy but since it’s a red eye flight and I’m tired, I should be able to sleep for most of it.  I transfer 35k miles to United to make the booking.  After getting through all the steps in the booking process, the last page hits me with an error.  I tried several more times and got the same error.  I then call United to make the booking and they too get the same error.  They told me the flight is sold out and the website is showing inventory space incorrectly.  Damn you United Airlines.  Well then I look for another flight.

6/11/12: 6:15pm

I find space on Asiana business class to Tokyo.  Cool!  It leaves in 7 hours so I can still start my vacation tonight.  It costs 75k United miles so I have to transfer even more of my precious Chase UR points (it almost wiped out my balance).  I go online to make the booking and it’s a complete success. I didn’t hit an error page so I went home and started packing.

united airlines award flight

6/11/12: 11:00pm

I took a Lyft directly to the airport from my place for $40.  There isn’t too much traffic this late so it was the best price I could hope for.  In an effort to be more efficient with my time, I planned to get there early so I can get to LAX and do some stargazing from the Star Alliance outdoor business class lounge.

I make my way through the craziness of LAX and get to the Asiana check-in counter.  I stroll right up to the business class line and was immediately helped.  There was, of course, a very long line to check-in for economy.

At the check in desk, I hand over my passport and show my e-mail confirmation from United.  The girl at the check-in counter then tells me my ticket was cancelled and to call United.  WHAT THE HELL!?  I’m angry.  I just spent money on a Lyft and did a bunch of speed packing and speed cleaning to be sent home?  I then call United asking what the situation is.  They told me the reservation never ticketed.  They were having system issues.  The real issue is that United sucks.  Of course I asked to be booked for another flight and was told there was a United flight to Tokyo but it would connect in IAD (Dulles International Airport in D.C.) which is on the other side of the continent.  This would all be in economy on United metal.  Without hesitation or a filter, I said “HEEEEEEELLLLLLL NOOOOOOOOO.”  

United has attacked another Asian man, me.  They attacked my miles and my time.  United could only offer to refund the miles to my account and return the money I paid in taxes.  They would not reimburse me for my wasted time, transportation fees and inconvenience.  The biggest inconvenience was that I couldn’t transfer these United miles back to my Chase account.


I texted my boss after hours to get Friday off since I’d be leaving and now I’d miss a day of work to wait for a flight.  Going back to work on Friday didn’t seem like an option so I wanted to fly out as soon as possible.  When you’re in the Tom Bradley terminal area at LAX, you’d be lucky to have any phone reception or decent wifi. I tried booking a flight online at LAX (I was even going to use money if it was a reasonable price) but the Internet service there was awful.  There weren’t any later flights today.  The only thing I could do at this point was go home and try to make a reservation for the morning.

MISTAKE!  After I transferred all those miles out to United I forgot that I could have just used Korean Air!  On United it’s 75k for Business class to Asia with a $75 fee.  With Korean Air it’s 80k for First Class, a free stopover and no additional fee.  They have a ton of availability since most people forget to use their miles for this program.  I sure did.

6/12/12: 1am

I’m home and I’m very tired.  I start looking for any availability to Asia in the morning.  I checked a lot of sites and ended up using British Airways Avios to go from LAX-HND in economy for 25k Avios.  That’s a pretty good deal.  I book it.  It’s with American airlines departing at 10am.  All other flights that were available would be much later in the evening.  I wanted to go as soon as possible to economy was my only option.  

Luckily, I have Ruby status with British Airways.  Since I booked with them I was able to get in the Premium Economy seats at no additional cost.  I took the bulkhead aisle seat in row 13.  Not too shabby.  I went to sleep knowing that I’d have to leave my place by 6am to get to LAX for my 10am flight.  Because getting to LAX is a huge gamble during rush hour.

1 thought on “United Airlines Took My Miles But They Didn’t Book My Flight”

  1. Pingback: Award Flight Booking Strategies: Tokyo to Sapporo on JAL | blorg

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