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No third party tickets at UNITED

San Diego...
posts: 4
reviews: 2
No third party tickets at UNITED

So I go on United website to buy a one-way ticket for my son from El Paso to San Diego. First the site freezes constantly, and it took three times before I managed to get thru the whole process and buy a ticket. Between every web page change, they show you an "ad." Then everything, from your seat, to when you board, to your luggage, is "for sale." It was like a commercial for Southwest. But got thru it, gritting my teeth all the way.

So on the confirmation page of the purchased ticket it says in tiny, but red letters "The credit card used for this purchase must be available at check-in." Now mind you, there has been ZERO forewarning of this. So as my son is in El Paso and I am in San Diego, this is a little bit of a problem. So swearing already, I call United. First I get the horrible rings of hell of robotic idiocy, then I get the 20 minute harangue about how their agents are all terribly terribly busy, and that I should try using their website (been there/done that).

Almost immediately after the recording I get a United rep -- who sounds VERY young (like 15).

The rep tells me that this is for "my protection from credit card fraud." When I explain that I am 900 miles away from where my son will check in, he suggests that I mail the credit card to my son overnight (that's to protect me from fraud?). When I protest at that solution and how stupid it is, he tells me "it's your bank that is instituting the policy." An obvious lie, since I used an American Express card -- so not bank sponsored. By this time I am, ladies and gentlemen, truly steaming.

I ask to speak to a supervisor. I'm told I will have to wait. I wait. I get a VERY young sounding woman on the line, who claims to be the supervisor. I have some doubts on this as the call progresses as she seems even less informed than the rep. Her story is that United has suffered from so much credit card fraud (oh COME ON!!!) that they have had to institute this practice of confirming the card with the passenger. I pointed out that it would be extremely inconvenient in this case, and her "solution" was that I could go to "any physical United counter" and show my card and ID there.

So I said to her "let me get this straight, I've already purchased the ticket with my credit card on your site, but you're telling me I can't purchase a ticket for my son via the internet, without physically going somewhere to show my credit card?" That's right, says she.

At which point I lose it -- pointing out that I buy goods and services, including air tickets for both myself and other members on my family on the internet on a regular basis, and have done so for more than a decade, and no one, ever, has asked for such a stupid request.

Her response -- "well I can cancel the ticket for you." WHICH I WOULD EXCEPT IT'S THE ONLY VIABLE FLIGHT IN THIS CASE.

Can you believe this?? I have already sent a complaint to United, and I am now dedicating my life to spreading this story to embarrass them as much as humanly possible. NO WONDER THEY'RE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. I can't wait. I will NEVER use UNITED again EVER.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Air Travel, Business Travel
posts: 7,180
reviews: 81
1. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

Buy the ticket. Check in online. They will never tell you that they don't ask for it. They do, but very very rarely. Just make sure your son knows the credit card number.

Edited: 7:29 pm, January 11, 2011
Chiang Khong...
posts: 3,859
reviews: 1
2. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

HI

after wasteing my time reading this diatribe I find out it is a non issue

nothing has happened yet or probably will happen

I fly United a lot you actually can use your credit card to check in if you don't have your e-ticket or confirmation number. at kiosk. in fact usually faster

I have never been asked to show credit card. even tho they can ask you for it.

the only airline that has asked me was Air Asia in Thailand for a flight I had booked on line months before

another 1 post wonder either confussed on how to book flights or

has poor reading comprehension skills.

Me thinks much ado about nothing.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 48,572
reviews: 15
3. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

As Geo said. I'm asked for the card with which I booked the ticket about one in every ten flights but it's not the norm. As long as your son knows the card number and expiry date (along with your name and the card's billing address, bit of a given) then all should be well.

UA (and some other airlines) could eliminate this problem with one (useful) question in the booking process: is the person paying for the ticket travelling? BA asks that on page one of the Buy Now process, makes things much less complicated.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 14,201
reviews: 73
4. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

Hi,

I will say that ticket fraud is an unfortunate issue and due to the fact that you or anyone can buy an expensive ticket and then immediately fly, there is little and ability to secure recourse.. now, naturally, that wasn't your specific case, but this does illustrate why airlines- like United and others- put this requirement in place.

In some cases the major card issuers set unique policies with the airline in these matters.. owning in part to the sheer amount of money in play and the near impossibility to recover the "service" once used.

I will also say that most airlines, United as well as all the majors, DO in fact have something called a Prepaid Ticket Advice or PTA, designed specifically for this type of need.. I would have expected this to be discussed with you by either the agent or the Supervisor. It's not very common anymore with the advent of "E" tickets, but it still exists.

So to that end, I can see a failure on their part to better discuss with you alternatives that met your ticketing needs. I would hold them accountable to that end to better discuss with you options.

PTA's usually have some form of a call-back or other way of verifying the purchaser so that both cardholder and merchant are better protected from fraud.

As far as "NO WONDER THEY'RE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS."

Not so sure where you arrive at that conclusion.. Their most current quarter, Q3, United alone reported earnings for the quarter of $473MM, and CO reported $367MM for the quarter-- in other words, nearly 850MM in total.

They also reported a combined free cash on hand balance of $9.1 >BILLION< in unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and such..

UAL Q3 2010 Earnings:

http://tinyurl.com/4ss6xff

So, just on the surface, it would appear that any "going out of business" is not happening in the immediate future. But I can appreciate your frustration.

Travel Safe,

Iowa
posts: 7,532
reviews: 32
5. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

<<<<<<and I am now dedicating my life to spreading this story to embarrass them as much as humanly possible.

Your plan may backfire. It's not worth dedicating your life to.

This information taken from their website. No need to purchase a ticket to see it.....

*Booking travel for other people

If you complete a reservation for another traveler - you may be required to present your card at airport check-in.*

<<<<<Now mind you, there has been ZERO forewarning of this.

The information is available.

Edited: 10:53 pm, January 11, 2011
New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 8,267
reviews: 51
6. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

I was more surprised the OP only had one post. Actually, I'm not...

East Sussex, United...
posts: 4,313
reviews: 1
7. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

^^ An all too depressingly familiar trend though isn't though Speedbird ?

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 8,267
reviews: 51
8. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

^^ An all too depressingly familiar trend though isn't though Speedbird ?

______________

The seagull posters....come in from nowhere, crap all over the place then bugger off never to be seen again, meanwhile everyone else cleans up the poop...

East Sussex, United...
posts: 4,313
reviews: 1
9. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

^^ Perhaps its time to just completely ignore such posts. Replying just encourages them more it would seem.

Nashville, TN
posts: 4,716
reviews: 8
10. Re: No third party tickets at UNITED

"Perhaps its time to just completely ignore such posts"

Maybe TA could set up a special forum for these. However, they do have their good side. I find that you can sometimes pick up some good and/or nice to know information in the responses. Besides that, they're always good for a laugh.