United’s Computer Woes: Yanking Miles from Your Account Improperly When Partner ‘Fails to Confirm’ Flight Activity

If you’ve been flying United’s airline partners recently, and crediting those flights to your MileagePlus account, check your balance — apparently United has been removing legitimate flight credits en masse when their flight partners haven’t confirmed the activity.

Some attribute the lack of proper confirmation to United’s IT woes and inability to properly sync up with its partners for validating the credits. Many flyers inconvenienced.

Normally I toss boarding passes once miles post. Note to United flyers: save partner boarding passes even after you receive credit for the flights.

Miles from Blighty reports a similar and perhaps related problem, with paid business class travel on Air New Zealand reverting from having earned elite qualifying miles to earning just redeemable miles.

These sorts of IT problems, along with problems like failing to properly issue award tickets won’t be solved by the rollout of the new graphical interface for United agents’ computer systems tomorrow.

But expect some disruptions due to that — a new graphical rather than command line system is sorely needed for sure, and should ultimately be helpful (and the fact that the interface is supposedly ‘optional’ and agents in the know should still have access to the command line). But agents will still be hunting and pecking around for a few days for sure as they get used to their new system, so don’t expect everything to go smoothly this week. It won’t be nearly as bad as with the massive problems from United’s reservation ssytem integration back in March. But it won’t be without hiccups either. And I am personally waiting to see how the existing computer terminals do with the graphical rather than text-based system.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why would anyone fly this airline and use their program unless they had too?
    What a mistake merging these two brands.Greed and typically the worst of two business models and cultures combined
    I avoid and rarely fly them.Did I say mostly horrible award availability to any destination at desirable times?
    I was really lucky to fly United and Continental when they were class act brands during their best years of service and value.

  2. Settle down, D Wonder.

    This happened to me recently with credits from TACA flights. Should I resubmit the flights for credit or contact United about it?

  3. Also, if you use regional or system-wide upgrades for someone else’s itinerary on a space available basis, UA will no longer automatically redeposit your account with unused upgrades.

  4. I’ve seen a different partner booking problem – changes to a UA reservation not being updated correctly in the LH reservation system.

    I had both UA and LH flight segments on a single UA award ticket. The original reservation was confirmed correctly with both UA and LH. But when I later changed the dates, flights, and stopover city, the partner flight changes did not appear in the LH reservation system.

    After the change, everything was correct in my UA record locator; but my LH record locator still showed the original flights – LH didn’t know about any of the changes. When I called UA Res again, they got a “supervisor” to help; the end result was that both my original flights and my changed flights (with different stopover cities) showed as “confirmed” by LH. (This caused some confusion when I checked in with LH,)

    Bottom line: Get all partner record locators from UA; check on the partner Web sites to ensure the flights are confirmed correctly in the partner’s reservation system (especially important when you change an existing reservation).

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