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My United Woes Continue- 50,000 Miles Mysteriously Overdrawn From My Account

by on January 16, 2013 · 38 comments

in United

In September, United matched my American Airlines Executive Platinum to Platinum Premier status, good until February 2014. My plan was to try and requalify for Premier 1K this year, since I fly a lot of transcontinental flights and generally enjoy their p.s. service- and I think United miles are the most valuable airline currency. However, things haven’t been so smooth- in September I redeemed for a business class one-way Miami-Zurich-Nice award on Swiss Airlines and was told the ticket was invalid and was denied boarding. I’ve sent numerous emails to United and have yet to even receive a response. Last month I had an issue where a United phone rep royally messed up a ticket and lost my Economy Plus seat assignment and a nasty gate agent tried to make my friend sit in a middle seat (but I was luckily able to rectify that and get him a business class upgrade).

The newest issue is that I recently noticed my United MileagePlus account had a negative balance of 44,056 miles! Knowing this had to have been a mistake on United’s part, I called the MileagePlus Service Center to try to have those miles redeposited.  I explained my situation to the representative that on the 29th of December I purchased two award tickets for 50,000 miles each, yet my account is showing 3 redemptions of 50,000 miles each on that date.

An extra 50,000 miles were taken out of my account as an Award

An extra 50,000 miles were taken out of my account as an Award

She put me on hold for a several minutes to talk with her supervisor and was very apologetic when she returned saying that she was sorry for the wait and that it was a technical error – 50,000 miles would be redeposited into the account within 72 hours.

8 days later and my account was still negative 40,065 miles

8 days later and my account was still negative 44,065 miles.

Fast forward to 8 days later and my account is still showing the same negative balance. Again I called the MileagePlus Service Center and explained the situation. This time I was told something quite a bit different. After putting me on hold for a few brief moments the representative kindly explained that this is a technical problem affecting the whole system that they are still working to fix it.
“Initially there was a problem because a lot of double miles were posted to people’s accounts that shouldn’t have been. The original goal was to go through and correct the error in those accounts, but it ended up causing problems with the whole system. This should be fixed by the end of the month, so please check back again then.”

Before hanging up I asked if there was anything I could do in the mean time and she said I would just have to wait until the problem gets resolved.
I noticed that several users have recently posted on FlyerTalk that their United miles have not been posting. This may be a result of the same technical difficulties I have been dealing with.

This is very frustrating because I needed to book a 25,000 mile award flight for a friend the other day, but would have had to transfer in an additional 45,000 points from Chase just to get my account in the positive- which is something I didn’t want to do.

Most concerning is United’s culture of complete customer disservice. I’ve pretty much had a negative experience from everyone ranging from phone reps to senior leaders in Mileage Plus senior management. When I spoke with several of them at the Star Mega Do in November, they promised to look into my Swiss ticketing debacle. I emailed them shortly thereafter, but never even got a reply. I don’t mean to “throw them under the bus” by blogging about the situation, but I think it’s important to write about my true experiences with airlines, especially so you don’t think I got special treatment as a blogger! I pay for all of my own flights and especially as a Premier Platinum, I think they should at least acknowledge their errors and somehow try to rectify them. In the Swiss case, I ended up having to use 67,500 American miles and $300 (vs. the 50,000 United and $5 for my Swiss flight) to get me to my final destination. I think the appropriate thing would be for United to apologize for the ticketing error and give me a voucher and/or miles to make up for the difference that I had to pay since their award ticket was not honored.

Has anyone else noticed funny activity in their Mileage Plus account or had issues with award tickets recently?

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  • ThatGuy64

    TPG, I feel you on the absolutely atrocious customer service. I was recently enjoying my Honeymoon, and attempted to make a simple change to my flight. The website, erroneously, quoted me a nice cheap $150 (total) to push two tickets back about 12 hours. I called United to get the fare honored, and spent 1 hour with a completely incompetent rep who refused on 6 occasions to transfer me to someone. It was absolutely miserable.

    I called back a second time. Got a great rep (or so I thought). she replicated the website error, spoke with her supervisor, said they’d honor the mistake price, and then called back 20 minutes later to say they wouldn’t and she had misspoke.

    Their customer service is truly deplorable.

  • Chatelaine

    We flew TACA in December and entered our United Mileage Plus numbers on our tickets. My United number was wrong on my outgoing flight but right on my incoming. My husband’s United number was correct. We haven’t seen anything posted yet. After reading your note about their system having problems I’m wondering if that’s why. I was going to fill out their online form but i guess i’ll give it another week or so.

  • Brandon

    @Chatelaine I flew TACA in Nov. and the miles posted to my United account in about 5 days… So I might check on that…

    No problems for me, but other than that TACA flight and some dining miles, I haven’t had that much activity.

  • DP

    I’ve been trying to get TK miles to post for almost two months. Totally incompetent customer service. I basically hang up when I get the Manila call center. They are reading a script to you and can not think outside of the box….should just status match to AA. At least they are trying to improve….

  • Michel

    Well I was one of the 1k for a day when they had a computer screwup a week or so ago, up from Platinum then back the next day. It has taken longer for flights to post to my account than usual lately.

  • Rob

    “Has anyone else noticed funny activity in their Mileage Plus account or had issues with award tickets recently?”

    Let’s just say the funny activity/issues can go both ways…I’d be perfectly happy for things to stay just as they are.

  • schmerj

    I earned Silver status for the first time last year, which should be valid through 2013. In the beginning of the month I noticed that my status had been removed from my account. Got it taken care of, but had to call in. Seems like something’s up… Chase miles seem to be posting.

  • Karl

    Yes, I recently initiated a status match with United as a SkyMiles Platinum Medallion, and forwarded all of my documentation more than two weeks in advance of my next scheduled United flight. However, this was apparently not enough time for United to process my simple request. I called and spoke to several representatives the day before my flight, and they were completely unwilling to help.

    I ended up flying without any status bump, missing out on Economy Plus seating, upgrade possibilities, and even had to pay to check my bags!

    This is very different than Delta, who have frequently given me $50 or $100 credits when I have been inconvenienced.

  • HEIGH66

    I’ve got 50K united miles I’m having a hard time finding a use for. Wanna trade :).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3431439 JP Cross

    I’m also a platinum and got screwed on a UA flight this week. I purchased an inexpensive one-way from SBA to SLC via SFO five hours before departure. Was not able to check in on my phone for whatever reason. When I arrived at the small airport I was told that it had not been ticketed. After five minutes of the desk agent speaking with ticketing she passed the call off to an American Eagle desk agent to complete the call. Eventually they gave me a ticket and said that everything was in order. It wasn’t until I got home and realized they had changed my booking into a class of fare that was $900 more!

    Spent countless cycles speaking with offshore reps on Monday and Tuesday who refused to connect me with the Refund Dept in Houston. So right now I’m out over $1k for what was advertised and booked as a $164 short haul flight.

  • Deneetro

    I’ve had problems with United flight miles being posted into my account. I’ve had to call about 2 weeks after each trip to get the miles posted, and then even had to call back to get all of my flight legs posted. Additionally, although I knew it was too good to be true, I had the 50k miles posted for the United Chase card recently, and then last weekend I magically had an additional 50K. But, alas, the error was corrected several days later.

  • Ralf

    I’m Silver but was 1K for a day like another comment mentioned. Even offered a UnitedClub membership for the discounted price. I printed the duplicate card out, but it expires at the end of January.

  • Rob P

    Payback from the nasty gate agent? ;) I can’t believe they haven’t fixed the Swiss ticket issue yet! Unacceptable, United.

  • Mike

    I matched my 1K to Exec Plat last year…up until now i really was not sure which to concentrate on, but UA just seems to be falling off a cliff….they just dont care about anything or anyone. Reading FT these days its crazy how many horror stories people are having now now. I am based as SFO so UA is usually more convenient, but i am seriously thinking about going all in AA the more i read about UA these days….

  • Dorcas

    So…I go online in my MP account to just check to make sure that my upcoming three reservations remain as submitted. Two have new flights and my family is no longer seated in Economy Plus. On a third, they have the names correct, but when I check on each family member’s personal data, the name and data does not match. When I call UAL to ask for help, they admit they are “having trouble.” It appears that anyone with a MP credit card gets about the same benefits as Gold or Silver. Why I would stay with this airline is not clear to me. It’s just that the remaining US alternatives don’t look that good either. Is anyone in love with their airline of choice any more?

  • JL100

    I am glad I don’t have to deal with United – seems totally unacceptable after so many issues.

  • Daniel

    Regarding the Swiss ticket it seems that you have politely asked for fare resolution of an error and have received nothing. I don’t know why you don’t settle this matter in court and specify damages. Thoughts?

  • Carl4949

    Something is wrong with their system, I’ve been having trouble with flights posting since early December. They also sent me the wrong premier package for 2013 (platinum after I qualified for 1K). On the plus side, I’ve found the United flight crews to be really excellent lately. Notably attentive and helpful.

  • Gpuzzi

    I have been very loyal to Star Alliance and United. Mostly because in years past the customer service was the best in the US in my opinion. Even before I had status they use to give me perks that they didnt need to, now I find myself fighting for perks that I am entitled to, or anytime I ask for help being denied.

    Recently I noticed I would be approx 5300 miles short of reaching 1k. So I booked what was almost a 600$ flight on US Airways making a stop over each way to make sure I got the miles. Because my first and second flight had the same flight number even though there was a stop they only gave me the miles that I would of got going direct. So instead of getting 1k by about 200 miles I was going to be 124 short.

    When I spoke with a customer service agent I was continously told “Sir you need to earn 1k” (they were in Manila). I just wanted to know why the miles were crediting that way and couldnt wait the two week to find out as it would be after the first of the year.(I eventually did a choice transfer) I tried emailing them and got very generic response after the first of course, saying Sir we see you are 1k thank you for flying. And when I tried to get into details I get an email ending with “We appreciate the final opportunity to respond to your concern.”

    I find they dont really care about their flyers anymore. And to be honest, I am probably done with them I have a debacle similar to the ones you have been having Brian.

  • http://theBWphoto.com/ Joseph Linaschke

    Damn this is depressing. I was seriously considering moving to United from American, as United has better connections where I now live. But this is making me have serious second thoughts!

  • Toni

    I’ve had major issues too, but through the mileage plus shopping portal. I don’t know how related to the actual mileage plus program it actually is. I’m missing a ton of points and everytime I write, they try and refer me over to the actual United customer service saying all sorts of stupid stuff that has nothing to do with my issue I wrote about in the first place! I just want my dang points!

  • Michel

    I hope you got a email receipt you can use to make your case, the staff at SBA for UA has gone downhill this year. They fired all the gate agents who had been their for years replacing them with the American Eagle contractor’s who have no idea what they are doing yet. Good luck on getting your problem resolved

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3431439 JP Cross

    No email receipt, but the 2nd offshore rep seemed to see the history and agreed that I “deserved” to get the $893 refunded. I filed the claim once on the website and received an email that there was a technical error because the ticket number wasn’t included (there was no field for ticket #!). Guess I need to file online again, wish I’d saved the complaint to my Copy clipboard.

    Do you fly out of SBA much? I had a friend who made $8 an hour working for America West there when we were in college a decade back.

  • Michel

    I am based in town so SBA is my home airport, with a few flights a month either UA or AA. Its not a bad jump off airport, enjoy the fact I can book a ticket, pack roll to airport and get on plane with a hours notice :) I have friends who worked there also over the years. Its not a bad little airport but miss the nonstops to SLC, SJC, and DFW we used to have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1103591 Colin Emerson

    Has anyone else noticed funny activity in their Mileage Plus account or had issues with award tickets recently?

    TPG,

    I booked a roundtrip award ticket from SIN to PEK in economy on SQ (30K miles total) through the United website. My return flight from PEK to SIN was supposed to leave on January 3, but I had to change it last minute to January 4. I decided to use an additional 7500 miles (on top of the 15K for that leg of the trip) to fly SQ business class. I got my confirmation, but I noticed that an additional 20K had been taken from my account.

    After emailing the MileagePlus Service Center I was directed to United’s general customer service. I waited several days for a reply, and when I got one I was directed back to MPSC. Fed up with the runaround, I called United Reservations here in Singapore where I am based. After 7 phone calls and one competent customer service rep the 20K miles were redeposited. The official explanation was a technical glitch.

    At least the miles came back eventually…hopefully the same will happen for you.

  • studd

    I stopped flying UA almost all the time. I went from 1K to 50K, and they even called me b/c I buy FULL FARE TKS, but I will not return till they improve. Even if AA is old and run down, at least the agents are Americans and the staff usually helpful. UA just resents elites and it shows on every level.

  • Acoles

    I’m a newbie to the site, but wondering what “have had to transfer in an additional 45,000 points from Chase” means? Chase credit card? Sorry to sound naive, but I am absolutely astounded that there has been a PARTY going on here, and I’ve just discovered it.

  • Nate

    Not only were you screwed over by United but if you were at the airport and had proof of you being ticketed on that flight ahead of time then you are also owed significant compensation from SWISS. The EU regulations for denied boarding/downgrades applies for flights to the EU as well as departing the EU if the carrier is based in the EU under the EU Regulation 261/2004. It does not matter if the tickets were booked through a partner or if they were purchased with miles.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_Compensation_Regulation

    or more technical…

    http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/passengers/air/doc/neb/questions_answers.pdf_reg_2004_261.pdf

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  • Rob P

    Yep, Chase Ultimate Reward points from various Chase cards. They can be transferred to United.

  • Martin Adamczyk

    I used to fly United as a consultant back in the early 2000′s. I’ve had policies enforced arbitrarily and a few phone reps mess up my tickets. Back in ’07 & ’08 I saw a baggage handler literally heave my suitcase into the air and onto the conveyor belt and found on arrival he broke a well packed, expensive bottle of alcohol inside – clothes were ruined but United wouldn’t even let me file a report because there was no external damage. On another trip I had an external pocket and zipper damaged. Per their policy, I had it repaired and sent them the bill – they declined payment citing they don’t cover zippers, enclosures, handles, pockets, wheels, etc…. basically my suitcase must be a seamless sealed box. I consider United inconsistent, dismissive, and irreverent.

    I left them for American and am MUCH happier – and I often tell American how much I appreciate their customer service, both in the air and on the phone (no off-shore reps). That piece of mind is worth it to me.

  • Aron

    Last week I had over 30,000 mile subtracted from my account out of the blue. I’m not sure but I think their system over credited me and was taking them back. An email inquiry resulted in a pointless premade reply.

  • Gbreiter

    All airline activity since April 2012 is showing up as 2013 airline activity. While the logon page appears to be correct the account summary is about 70,000 high. Has been this way for several weeks and also flight activity has been really slow to post. @united continues to have major systems issues. Hopefully they won’t have another crash like I experienced in the fall when I was unable to print a boarding pass at the airport and missed my flight.

  • Pho Real

    Thank you TPG for your article. It resonates with my experience with United thus far. My personal experience is more with United for their top tier customer. I decided this year to do a status match with United from Delta due to all the emotional discussion about Delta new policy.

    My experience – As a Delta Diamond, I was given a status match to Premier 1K within an hour of my request. I then purchased a ticket on United for a fly from LAX to Baltimore. So far, it has been disappointing. As a Delta Diamond, I got upgrade 95% of the time. My Q class ticket on United got me an aisle seat on Economy Plus section on both outbound/inbound flight. My TSA Pre did not work and the line on United at LAX is long – yes even for Premier 1K.

    Delta Diamond also got complimentary club access which United doesn’t grant to their Premier 1K. I bought the one day access and the level of service at the club is just par.

    Sorry Delta for doubting you. I think I will forget about this match and stick with I know best. For business traveler such as myself, I actually will welcome the new Delta value based award. It will help make it more pretigious to achieve Diamond as it should be and make the level of service that much more better and accessible (at least I hope.)

    I know I haven’t give United its fair share of evaluation, but why not stick with what you are comfortable with?

  • PB

    Not sure if it’s just me or something with the system. Seems most flights since about Sept ’12 don’t post miles to my Mileage Plus account.

    I am Global Services and it is a real pain to have to check my account, see the flight is not captured and call to get someone to correct the error. About every other time I have to call a second time, be ause the error was not corrected after the first call.

    Anyone else having this issue?

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  • frustrated

    Yes! I just thought I was adding 152,000 Chase sapphire miles to my 48,000 United miles for a total of 200,000 miles and instead 48,000 miles were deducted from my account. The “customer service” rep said I had a 48,000 mile negative balance. If so, its been there since May 2013 and they never mentioned it. There’s no way I can get back to the earlier United statement to figure out how and when this all happened because the past history isn’t visible to me online. All my plans are screwed up because now I don’t have anywhere near the miles I thought I had. This sucks!

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