One of my cousins booked a United MileagePlus award to Warsaw. She was meeting her brother there — he booked an award, too, in business class. She doesn’t have as many miles, she was in coach.
She was booked on a double connection via Newark and Zurich. Weather was slowing down air traffic in the Northeast.
She wisely tried to stand by for an earlier flight to Newark. She was called up to the podium, ready to board her, since the person she was behind on the list wasn’t in the gate area. As the agent is about to hand her a new boarding pass, he runs up and the agent puts him on the flight instead.
United Airlines at Newark
Sadly her original flight to Newark was delayed and caused a short connection. She arrives at her gate for the Zurich flight. The door is still open, but the agent says they closed the flight and she can’t get on.
Fortunately she had planned for this! She had United back her up through Frankfurt.
Computers crashed at Newark and she was given a handwritten boarding pass for her Frankfurt flight.
The agent also “wrote out” her onward Lufthansa segment to Warsaw.
When she arrived in Frankfurt though Lufthansa denied her boarding. United had booked her onto the correct flight — 11 months into the future exactly.
Now I understand why Lufthansa wouldn’t put her onto the flight. She didn’t have a reservation or a ticket for that flight. She had a ticket to travel mid-next year.
From her perspective — and that of any ‘normal passenger’ — it was frustrating. United and Lufthansa are partners. She was clearly supposed to be on the flight to Warsaw. There are seats to Warsaw. She waited for Lufthansa’s help for an hour. Could they really not do anything for her?
It’s United’s ticket. United had to fix it. She gets rebooked for the next flight — eight hours later.
She’s now got a connection of just under 12 hours (too short for the trip delay coverage from her credit card to kick in, by minutes). However both her credit card and United are going to be on the hook for expenses incurred as a result of delayed baggage (so she’ll have to sort through which is liable for what).
She does have a Priority Pass card and I tell her with her 11 hour connection she should head to the lounge for a shower (if not into Frankfurt itself). What should United do for her after rebooking her to travel in the wrong year?