Round two: My problems redeeming a United Airlines e-certificate

I previously posted about my issues trying to redeem a United Airlines customer appreciation certificate and I spent another 45 minutes on the phone with United last night for round two (really three). Here’s a recap of what happened prior to my call:

  • The certificate wasn’t recognized when I tried making a booking online.
  • During my first call to reservations, the agent had me generate a “phone order” PNR on the website.
  • She documented the reservation, extended the ticketing time limit and advised me to use the forum to contact customer relations so they could research the cert.
  • After not hearing anything for several days, I called back. The PNR vanished.
  • The new agent transferred me to web support with whom I spent an hour on the phone.
  • I was told the new PNR would be sent to ticketing and that after being charged the full fare, a $200 refund would be processed to my credit card and show up in 7 to 10 days.
  • The fare was charged, but no refund ever showed up.

On last night’s call, I was fortunate to get a stellar legacy United agent in the Honolulu call center. She went through the record and saw no mention of the $200 e-cert (sigh), so we basically started from scratch – except I already had a ticketed reservation.

She contacted a supervisor who also tried to research my certificate number, to no avail. It again showed up as “invalid.” I explained where, when and why I got it and the agent asked me to forward the email from United with the cert details to her supervisor while we were on the phone. I did just that, the supervisor received it and I’m now playing the waiting game again.

The supervisor is promising to get back to me by Tuesday of next week with resolution and my very friendly HNL reservations agent noted that she’d put my PNR on her “personal follow-up list” that she’ll monitor in the coming days. I actually believe her, as those HNL agents have never let me down.

While the supervisor was doing some research, the agent and I had a nice chat and she confirmed that another certificate I have in my possession with a later expiration date is showing as valid. Phew. Then again… we’ll see what happens when I try to use that one.

I feel better about this round, but my gloves are on, mouth guard in and I’ll be ready for round three if they don’t come back to the ring with resolution.


  1. If I may ask question here or should I post it in flyertalk. I flew RT on TK from JFK to IST on Feb 7, 2012. As of today, my outbound miles have not been posted while inbound had no problem. On Feb 24, I called United MP and they submitted the request to Turkish Airlines. 2 weeks later I called and United agent said, email from TK that the request was denied due to invalid fare class. They resubmitted the request and told me to wait 15 days. Waited 15 days and nothing happened. Called again and UA resubmitted for the 3rd time and told me to wait another 15 days. I called last night and United agent said, nothing they can do except wait or re-submit the request. I called TK and one of the agent said, fare is valid and told me to ask United to submit the request..
    The fare class for outbound was P in the reservation and Y in my BP. Both classes earn 100% UA miles

    It’s frustrating where both parties said, just resubmit the request and wait… what’s the process in getting the miles from partner airline? Who is giving the miles, I’d assume TK, right? Or this is an issue with the UA system after merge with CO?

    • @RedHat: Sorry you’re getting a ridiculous runaround. The ‘Y’ on your boarding pass just refers to the fact you were in the economy cabin, the ‘P’ is your purchased fare class and does indeed accrue 100%. Unfortunately, it’ll be a waiting game and/or continued persistence. I would give it another week or two as there is a thread on FT about a “sweep” to occur on the 15th or thereabouts that’s purported to fix many of the issues. Since your flight was well before the 3/3 system conversion, though, I doubt if such a sweep occurs, it’ll even fix your issue given the fact you were incorrectly denied credit by claim of an “invalid fare class.” Sorry it’s such a struggle, but if it were me, I wouldn’t give up… ever! Keep at it!

  2. What a bummer. I have a $200 e-cert that is also not recognized and after hearing about your saga, I am going to let it slide…it’s not worth two hours on the phone.

  3. @Matthew: Noooooo! I hope you don’t mean it. I just can’t let a cert go down the drain. At the minimum, I’d expect them to reissue a new one in the same amount if this one ends up a total fail. I really don’t care about my current reservation so long as I still can use the value in the future.

  4. Had a similar issue trying to redeem a 20% certificate. Showed up as “unable to determine rules” on the new site so off to spend an hour on hold to go. Agent basically took the fare I wanted and manually applied a 20% discount to the base fare (which isn’t right as some of the taxes are calculated as a % of fare but I didn’t want to argue). Had the same “vanishing PNR” thing as you did so I called back and the agent’s solution was to honour the original fare but he had to call into the reservations line (WTF?? isn’t he the reservations line?) and put me on hold. After 20 minutes I got bored and told him to hell with it. At the same time, the voucher magically started working on the site so I just used that to book my ticket.

    • @Harvey: Wow, maybe I should just try my cert again on the site in the future to see if it, too, will magically work! Congrats on it working eventually for you. And I understand about the time issue being not-so-worthwhile for such a low amount of money, but for me… it’s the damn principle. I won’t let this merger screw me out of something I earned through a different kind of failure at United.

  5. Oh and for the record… all the time I spend on the phone, probably not worth saving ~$150 but I used a headset and did other stuff while I was listening to the United mna

  6. here is a doozer for you, similar issue, was trying to apply a cert from united pre 3/3 to a reservation i had on farelock, called up in 40 minutes had it applied and ticketed; however, after i check my receipt via email, i was charged more than what the farelock price was. Guess what? they disregarded the farelock and charged me todays ticket price, over 300$ more than when i locked it in! Yay! on the phone again, hopefully i can get this sorted before my trip this afternoon…

    • @og: Holy S***! Now that is just ridiculously terrible. Best of luck and at the minimum… you should get an “appreciation cert” for the overcharge (not that you’d be able to use it in the future, though 😉 )

  7. Maybe best customer service from the “1k” desk. After calling back they worked on it for 40 minutes, then the agent came back telling me her supervisor said ecerts and farelocks dont work together (although you can apply certs to the payment page on the farelock ticket purchase) she didnt agree with it because she was familiar with it and said ill call you back in 30 minutes after i get it worked out. low and hold 30 min i get a call back saying she took care of it. Actually was not the right fare but im not going to quibble over $10. ill give props where props are due. if only i could reach her again if i have an issue!!!!

  8. Thanks Darren, As you said, I certainly will not give up. It’s a lot of points for elite status qualification. Not too mention that I also have missing miles from IST to AMM from the same reservation.

  9. I finally got the e-credit to work. After being on hold for almost an hour, I gave up. I tried to make a reservation again. This time, buying one ticket at a time!
    So, if you’re booking two people. Try again…one at a time.

    • @liwo: Unfortunately, there is no dedicated number. Best bet is to call reservations and ask to speak to web support… they seem to be a bit more knowledgeable with e-certs and the issues surrounding them.

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